A second judge has ruled that Wisconsin Republicans’ efforts to require a photo identification before voting is unconstitutional because it abridges the right to vote, according to published reports.
Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess said Monday that he was issuing a permanent injunction which prohibits Wisconsin lawmakers from ever attempting to enforce the scheme.
Dane County Judge David Flanagan last week issued a temporary injunction against Wisconsin’s voter ID law, and Republicans immediately called for an investigation into the judge due to his signature appearing on a petition seeking the recall of Gov. Scott Walker (R). Walker was sued over the law in his official capacity as governor of Wisconsin, which his critics say is different than his role as a private citizen seeking another term in public office.
Niess’s ruling comes on the same day that the Obama administration blocked a similar law in Texas, claiming that Republicans in Texas failed to show how it would not disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Texas is required to seek pre-approval for changes to state election laws under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Another voter ID law was blocked by the Administration in South Carolina last December.
Monday’s decision came after the League of Women Voters brought a lawsuit against Gov. Walker and the state’s Republican majority, which rammed the bill through without support from Democrats. Two other lawsuits are still pending in the courts.
Republicans claim voter ID laws are necessary to prevent widespread voter fraud, but there is no evidence of such a plot against American elections. Instead, ID laws have been empirically demonstrated to drive down the number of votes (PDF) cast for Democrats by minorities, students, the poor and the elderly, who are less likely to carry a photo ID.
Voter ID laws have been shopped in numerous states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a little known conservative lobbying group funded by wealthy interests, which purports to write bills for lawmakers.
So far, eight states have passed voter ID laws, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has placed them squarely in his sights during an election year fraught with partisan politics.