Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin’s voter ID law

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“It is a fairly aggressive decision which suggests that perhaps any type of photo identification requirement would violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and possibly the Constitution,” Mr. Esenberg said. “In that sense, it is at least in tension with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Crawford Case out of Indiana.”

One key difference is that Indiana’s law allowed those who lacked photo IDs to cast provisional ballots, which would be counted if the voter proved identity. Wisconsin’s law lacked that safety valve, Mr. Esenberg said.

Edward Fallone, a law professor at Marquette University, said the legal challenges have become more sophisticated in the six years since the Crawford case.

“I think this case in Wisconsin is sort of on the cutting edge of applying the factual evidence and demonstrating, in Adelman’s ruling anyway, that there is not evidence of voter fraud, but there is evidence of specific individuals who are prevented from voting by the law,” he said. “Therefore, the burden on the right to vote outweighs any state interest here.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Mr. Walker was reviewing the decision but had pledged to call a special session of the state Legislature if the law was struck down.

Judge Adelman said that if the Legislature rewrites the law to try to comply with his decision, he will expedite the case. But he signaled that he is unlikely to accept any photo ID requirement.

“Given the evidence presented at trial showing that Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to lack an ID, it is difficult to see how an amendment to the photo ID requirement could remove its disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result,” the judge wrote.

Judge Adelman was a Democratic state senator in Wisconsin, and was appointed to the federal court by President Clinton in 1997.

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