While the decision won’t affect voters for the Aug. 9 partisan primary, a federal judge’s recent decisions about Voter ID almost certainly will make an impact come November.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson struck down a number of provisions of the state’s voter ID laws, including restrictions on what kind of photo ID can be accepted at polling locations and limited hours and locations for early voting.
GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel is appealing Peterson’s ruling, the story continues, and the case is almost certainly going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This is the second decision this month that strikes down specific parts of the state’s Voter ID law. Just last week, U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that voters who face obstacles to obtaining a photo ID in order to cast a ballot will be allowed for the November presidential election to sign an affidavit swearing they are who they say they are.
In a nutshell, Peterson said state Republicans purposefully passed a law to limit minority voting in Milwaukee and other urban areas.
“The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities,” his opinion reads. “To put it bluntly, Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.”
The newspaper notes that Peterson said the law violates three amendments; the First Amendment right to free speech, the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and the Fifteenth Amendment’s protection of the right to vote.
Here are the provisions affected by the judge’s 110-page decision:
- Early voting limitations
- Only one early voting location even in large cities like Milwaukee
- Residents must live in their voting precinct for at least the 28 days preceding an election
- Not allowing expired student IDs and driver’s licenses
- That dorms provide a list of student voters to poll workers that also indicate whether or not a student is a U.S. citizen
- That voters can’t receive absentee ballots by fax or email
State Republicans dismissed the ruling, calling Peterson’s decision an overreach that “usurps states’ rights” and pointing out the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Another in a long line of judicial overreaches that usurp states’ rights. One more example of why (the U.S. Supreme Court) is critical,” a tweet from Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, reads.