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Wisconsin voter ID lawsuits head to state high court

Two lawsuits challenging Wisconsin's voter ID law [Wisconsin Act 23; JURIST news archive] are heading to the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] after two appellate courts sent them [certification] to the state's high court on Wednesday. In the two cases, NAACP v. Walker and League of Women Voters v. Walker, the plaintiffs assert that Wisconsin's voter ID law is too restrictive and prevents many minority, poor and elderly voters from casting a ballot. Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] appealed an injunction [JURIST report] blocking the law, arguing that the voter ID law is necessary to prevent voter fraud. Judge Richard Neiss refused to lift [JURIST report] the injunction last week after the DOJ requested that the law be enforced while an appeal is pending. It is unclear when the Wisconsin Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the voter ID law.

Neiss previously held [JURIST report] that the new law is unconstitutional because it impermissibly eliminates the right of suffrage for constitutionally qualified voters. This holding followed a temporary injunction [JURIST report] of the Wisconsin law by Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan who said that the law was more restrictive than similar laws that have been upheld in other states. Since Wisconsin's voter ID law was first introduced, there have been four challenges to it. 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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