A federal judge in Wisconsin issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that allows voters lacking a state approved photo ID to vote via affidavit in the upcoming November elections. The decision is in response to the state’s photo ID mandate and will help provide a safety net for the poor most affected by these laws including students, older women, African Americans and Latinos.
Strict voter ID laws have been passed in 11 Republican controlled states and have the effect of voter suppression.
Under U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman’s ruling, voters unable to obtain the photo ID required by Wisconsin voting laws will be able to vote if they sign an affidavit swearing to their identity and explaining why they couldn’t obtain the necessary documentation. Wisconsin’s voter ID law was enacted to combat voter fraud despite the evidence that voter fraud poses virtually no threat to the legitimacy of Wisconsin’s elections.
In his ruling, Adelman wrote, “Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who can’t obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort.
One woman affected by the law had lost a copy of her birth certificate, and could not afford the fees required to obtain proof of birth from the hospital where she was born. Another voter was disenfranchised because she had been adopted and had registered using her adoptive surname, which did not match the one written on her birth certificate.
The injunction did not strike down Wisconsin’s voter ID law, and is only a temporary measure for the November election.
This is the most recent development in a years-long struggle over Wisconsin’s voting laws. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Law Center for Homeless and Poverty challenged the law, known as Wisconsin Act 23, in 2011 shortly after it was passed by state lawmakers. In that same year, Judge Adelman struck it down, only to have his decision reversed by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court was then divided 5-5 as to whether to rehear the case, and it was sent back to Judge Adelman.