Monday, June 3, 2013

Liberal Wisconsin Appeals Court Upholds Voter ID

On Thursday a Wisconsin State Appeals Court overturned the decision of Dane County Judge Richard Niess, ruling that Wisconsin’s voter ID law does not violate the state constitution. The court unanimously ruled the voter ID law did not violate a provision of the state constitution that limits what restrictions the Legislature can impose on who can vote.

This was not a Republican or Conservative Court. Judge Blanchard, a Democrat, is the former Dane County district attorney and Judge Paul Higginbotham joined the opinion, an African American appointed by former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle.

Originally at the trial court level Judge Niess ruled that the voter ID law created a new category of people who cannot vote –those without ID- and thus violated the state constitution. However the Court of Appeals ruled that requiring a photo ID to vote is not an additional qualification for voting and instead merely a means of determining whether those who come to the polls are eligible to vote.

Requiring people to show photo ID at the polls

"Falls within the subsection of (the state constitution) allowing the Legislature to pass laws providing for a system of registration and, necessarily, give effect to the registration requirement by providing some means of verifying at the polling place that a person seeking to vote is registered," Judge Brian Blanchard wrote.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen acknowledged that their still are legal issues to be resolved.  "While today's decision is an important step toward full vindication of the law, we recognize that other challenges are still pending that address different issues," his statement said. "We will continue to defend the law and look forward to favorable decisions in those other cases as well."

The decision Thursday sent the case back to the trial court for possible further proceedings. Lester Pines, the attorney for the League of Women Voters, the group that originally brought the suit, said that would give him the chance to pursue other arguments against the law. But he stated it was unlikely because those arguments are being advanced in other cases. Another case is pending that could still effect voter ID in Wisconsin.  The ID requirement remains blocked because of that pending case.

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