Law Offices of David G. Arganian, Seattle, WA

Court Blocks Enforcement of Wisconsin's New Voter Identification Law


The new law for identifying voters in Wisconsin has been blocked by a temporary injunction issued by Dane County Judge David Flanagan. The implementation of the law is challenged in a lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which holds that the law disenfranchises minority voters who do not possess acceptable identification.

The law requires voters to produce photo identification like driver's licenses and other valid documents in federal, state and local elections while exercising their rights at polling booths.

At least thirty states require voters to present proof of identity before voting. In 14 of such states the proof of identity must also include a photo of the voter. Wisconsin is one of these states.

Supporters of laws requiring reliable voter identification say it helps prevent voter fraud and ensure democracy. However, opponents say there is no evidence of widespread fraud (as there have rarely been widespread attempts to detect voter fraud) and that such identification measures target suppressing the voices of ethnic minorities, the elderly and the poor.

Though attempts to oppose such laws have been turned down in other states, Judge Flanagan held the arguments of the plaintiffs held merit.

The judge said in his ruling that the law in Wisconsin was more restrictive than similar laws in other states. The judge noted, "The 40 uncontested affidavits offer a picture of carousel visits to government offices, delay, dysfunctional computer systems, misinformation and significant investment of time to avoid being turned away at the ballot box." The evidence presented was in relation to documented problems faced by 40 qualified voters while they tried to comply with the law of voter identification.

Flanagan's order prevents state officials from enforcing the law of voter identification in Wisconsin pending the trial scheduled to start on April 16, two weeks after the voters have safely cast their votes in the presidential primary.

However, the Wisconsin state Department of Justice said that they might file an appeal and hoped that the law would be back in place before April 3, the date for the presidential primary and spring elections in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesman Dana Brueck said, "We disagree with the ruling and will continue our efforts to defend Wisconsin's voter ID law, which is similar to laws that have already been upheld by the United States Supreme Court."

This still does not answer why the Department of Justice allowed the affidavits in the court of Judge Flanagan to remain uncontested.

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