Seventh Circuit likely to uphold Wisconsin voter ID law

MADISON, Wis., Aug. 10 (UPI) — The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay of a lower court ruling overturning part of Wisconsin’s voter identification law, leaving in place a requirement that voters show a state-issued ID prior to voting.

A three-judge panel also signaled in its ruling Wednesday it is likely to overturn the lower court’s ruling.

The decision comes amid a flurry of legal challenges to voting laws in states governed by Republicans that were passed in the wake of the Supreme Court‘s decision weakening the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Circuit courts elsewhere in the country have overturned or brokered agreements to loosen voter ID requirements, saying they disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, who tend to vote Democrat.

Proponents of Wisconsin’s law argued voter ID requirements are needed to prevent election fraud. Opponents argue there is scant evidence to suggest election fraud is happening on a large scale and the laws inhibit poor voters, the people most likely not to have a driver’s license, passport or other form of ID, from exercising their right to vote.

Under the district court ruling, the state would have been required to issue affidavit ballots to voters who lacked the proper ID, but the Seventh Circuit issued a stay of that ruling, potentially through the November election, and the judges signaled they are likely to overturn it after oral arguments.

“We conclude both that the district court’s decision is likely to be reversed on appeal and that disruption of the state’s electoral system in the interim will cause irreparable injury,” reads the judges’ order. “The  district  court  issued  an  injunction  that  permits  any  registered  voter  to  declare  by  affidavit  that  reasonable  effort  would  not  produce  a  photo  ID — even  if  the  voter  has  never  tried  to  secure  one,  and  even  if  by  objective  standards  the  effort  needed  would  be  reasonable  (and  would  succeed).”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who signed the measure, hailed the court’s ruling.

“Voter ID is a reasonable measure to protect Wisconsin voters against cheating and make sure every vote counts,” Walker said in a statement. “Today’s decision to halt the injunction issued by Judge Adelman is a step in the right direction. The decision recognized that his previous ruling is likely to be reversed in light of Supreme Court precedent and would create more uncertainty for voters. Voters in Wisconsin support voter ID, and our administration will continue to work to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Circuit courts overseeing two other states, Texas and North Carolina, have ruled opposite the Seventh Circuit. In North Carolina, federal judges flatly overturned the state’s similar voter ID law. In Texas, a federal judge ordered the state and civil rights groups into negotiations to craft a new set of rules before the November election.

The slew of voter ID laws came after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required several states with a history of segregation to pre-clear any changes to voting procedures with the Department of Justice.

Wisconsin was not one of those states.

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