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Thursday, August 11, 2016

 10:23 PM 

Federal court largely rejects state's request to reinstate series of election laws

A federal judge has rejected the state’s request reinstate a series of election laws, including restrictions on early voting hours.

But Judge James Peterson agreed with the state on one point, putting on hold his order for Wisconsin to fundamentally reform by the next election the process those who lack the required documentation for an ID can use in an attempt to get one.

Peterson found the emergency measures the state already has for those seeking an ID are acceptable for the November election. Those measures allow applicants to obtain a temporary ID for 60 days that allows them to vote. That can be renewed up to 180 days before the petitioner has to provide additional information to keep the petition pending.

Still, Peterson ruled Thursday the state must address that process, though it can wait until after the election.

“To be clear: the state must reform the IDPP because the current process prevents some qualified electors from getting acceptable IDs, and even successful petitioners must often endure undue burdens before getting those IDs,” Peterson ruled.

AG Brad Schimel focused on Peterson’s decision to stay his ruling on the appeal process for the voter ID law. In a separate case earlier this week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals put on hold a different federal judge’s ruling that would have created an affidavit process for those who don’t have an ID so they could vote.

“For the second time in three days, a court has granted our motion for stay in a case challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID laws and we are very pleased with this Court’s decision to allow this law to be in effect for the November 2016 election,” Schimel said. “I will continue to fight for the State of Wisconsin and to defend its laws before the courts.”

The state DOJ argued Peterson’s decision knocking out a series of laws would require “a vast overhaul of state election procedures.” But Peterson called that “an exaggeration,” adding the state had not made a strong case it would likely succeed on the merits of its appeal and “the court is not persuaded that any aspect of its decision was wrong.”

Peterson rejected the state’s request to put on hold his injunction preventing the state from enforcing a series of election laws. That includes:

*restrictions on how many hours municipalities can offer in-person absentee voting ahead of an election and the restriction that municipalities can only offer it at one site.

*expanding to 28 days from 10 days the residency requirement before being able to register to vote.

*preventing municipal clerks from sending absentee ballots by fax or email.

*excluding expired student ID cards from the list of acceptable IDs to vote.

The ruling means those laws remain on hold.

“The enjoined provisions, regardless of the theory under which the court has invalidated them, have one thing in common: they impede Wisconsin citizens from voting,” Peterson ruled.

One Wisconsin Institute filed the challenge to the election laws, and Executive Director Scot Ross said, "We will let the court's decision speak for itself when it wrote, 'Defendants have not made a strong showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their appeal: the court is not persuaded that any aspect of its decision was wrong.'"

-- By JR Ross

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect the decision was issued by Peterson.


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