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    September 16, 2014

    Seventh Circuit: State Has a Sufficiently Great Chance of Winning on Voter ID

    Sept. 16, 2014 – A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has indicated that it will probably uphold Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which requires voters to show photo ID at the polls, while removing a block on implementation.

    That means Wisconsin voters will have to show photo identification when they vote Nov. 4 in the fall 2014 General Election, which features contests for Governor, Attorney General, Congress, and state Senate and Assembly, among other contests. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has a list of current candidates.

    Last week, a three-judge panel for the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court issued a two-page order that unblocked the voter ID law. The law was blocked last April by Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

    Judge Adelman ruled that 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 violated the federal Voting Rights Act because it placed undue burdens on lower income persons, mainly minorities, who are less likely to have a driver’s license or the documents necessary to obtain a photo ID.

    Judge Adelman enjoined the law’s implementation pending appeal. In July, a Wisconsin Supreme Court majority, in two cases, ruled that the voter ID law does not unconstitutionally burden voters and places a reasonable regulation on elections.

    As part of the voter ID decisions, the state supreme court majority proclaimed that administrators must use discretion to issue photo ID for voting purposes “without requiring documents for which an elector must pay a fee to a government agency.”

    The three-judge panel for the Seventh Circuit Appeals court recognized the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling in its order to unblock implementation.

    The panel – consisting of Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge John Tinder, and Judge Diane Sykes, a former justice for the Wisconsin Supreme Court – said alleviating the costs of obtaining photo ID “reduces the likelihood of irreparable injury, and it also changes the balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief.”

    The panel did not rule on the merits, saying a merits opinion would be delivered in “due course.” But the panel gave a good indication that it would uphold the law, noting the “state’s probability of success on the merits of this appeal is sufficiently great.”

    The panel also noted that Wisconsin’s law is “materially identical” to Indiana’s photo ID law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

    Related Articles 

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Law Requiring Photo ID to Vote in ElectionsWisBar News, Aug. 5, 2014

    State Appeals Court Upholds Law Requiring Photo ID to Vote, Cases Pending – WisBar News, May 30, 2013

    The Legal Issues Deciding Act 23 – WisBar InsideTrack, Oct. 17, 2012

    The New Voter ID Law: How it Works – WisBar InsideTrack, Jan. 18, 2012

    A Constitutional Challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law: A Long Shot? – WisBar InsideTrack, June 1, 2011    

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