Opponents of a strict new voter identification law set to go into effect for the first time in this year’s elections are asking the Supreme Court to block the law, arguing there isn’t enough time to properly implement the law before Election Day. Two voting rights groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project, which represents a number of other Democratic-leaning groups, filed a petition with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan seeking an emergency stay halting the new law’s implementation. The petition comes after an en banc panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday split evenly on whether to hear a challenge to the law. The 5-5 decision leaves an earlier three-judge panel’s ruling in favor of the law intact, reversing an order from a federal judge in Wisconsin this spring to strike it down as unconstitutional.
“Thousands of Wisconsin voters stand to be disenfranchised by this law going into effect so close to the election,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “Hundreds of absentee ballots have already been cast, and the appeals court’s order is fueling voter confusion and election chaos. Eleventh-hour changes in election rules have traditionally been disfavored precisely because the risk of disruption is simply too high.”
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s (R) office did not have an immediate reaction to the filing.
The law requires voters to show government-issued identification, including some but not all student identification cards, when they arrive at their polling places. County clerks are contacting the hundreds of voters who have already cast ballots to ask them to provide copies of their identification before their ballots are counted.