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Wisconsin judges refuses to allow enforcement of voter ID law pending appeal

Dane County Circuit Court [official website] Judge Richard Neiss refused Tuesday to halt his ruling that Wisconsin's voter identification law [text, PDF] is unconstitutional. Neiss had previously ruled the law was unconstitutional [JURIST report] and the attorney general requested the law be enforced while they await appeal of his decision. The law requires a voter to display photo ID when entering a polling place to vote. Neiss's ruling earlier this month found that the law was unconstitutional because it went against the very idea of suffrage by preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote. Neiss's decision came after another Wisconsin judge issued a temporary injunction on the law. In his ruling, Judge David Flanagan found that Wisconsin's law was more restrictive [JURIST report] than new voter identification laws in other states. When Neiss struck down the motion [Green Bay Press Gazette report] he said he did so because when he found the law unconstitutional it is like "it never existed." He does not see any justification in enforcing the law.

This is one of four challenges to Wisconsin's voter ID law. The temporary injunction issued by Flanagan was in a suit filed in December by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) [advocacy website]. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty [advocacy websites] filed a federal lawsuit in December, as did the Advancement Project [JURIST reports] in February. There are now 31 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including 15 states that require photo ID, but the issue remains controversial.

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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