A Dane County judge has ruled against two civil rights groups in their effort to halt the controversial voter ID law, set to go into effect before the spring primary election on Feb. 21, but did not discount a future injunction.
Circuit Judge David Flanagan temporarily denied the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Voces de la Frontera the injunction because they did not adequately demonstrate irreparable harm, according to NAACP attorney Richard Saks.
Together, the NAACP and Voces submitted 40 affidavits intended to show the inconvenience caused by applying for photo identification and financial costs, such as obtaining the legal documents necessary to obtain a voter ID, according to the original complaint.
Saks said Flanagan will allow the two groups to state their case at a hearing Monday but declined to comment on the likelihood of an injunction being issued and will hold a scheduling conference today to set a date for the trial.
Saks also expressed doubt over whether the injunction will be issued prior to the primary election on Feb. 21, but said he hopes one is issued ahead of the presidential primary on April 3.
“Our concern going forward is that the judge wants to see that the effect of the law will result in voters being disenfranchised,” Saks said. “We feel very confident that we’ll be able to make that demonstration. On Feb. 21 [we feel] that there will be a lot of voters who show up at the polls on election day without the acceptable ID and won’t be allowed to vote.”
The original complaint filed by the NAACP brings four counts against the new voter ID law, which argue the law unreasonably burdens a citizen’s constitutional right to vote and does not actually address the problem of fraud.
According to a statement released by Gov. Scott Walker when groups filed the first of lawsuits against the Voter ID law, Walker said requiring photo identification to vote is common sense and that he would continue to support any reforms that protect the electoral process and increases citizens’ confidence in the results of our elections.
Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck said the injunction before the February primary is “unlikely,” but noted it is possible an injunction could be issued before the recall elections are held this summer.
Heck said there are serious questions raised by la Frontera and the NAACP with regard to equal protection.
“That’s the basis of their lawsuit – how all citizens are treated,” Heck said. “The question is whether or not you have the same ability under the law to be able to get this required state-issued photo ID, and then also to be able to vote.”
Heck predicted lower voter turnout amongst the elderly, minority groups and students due to the law. He called the law “burdensome” to these groups, saying some would not be willing to make the effort to obtain the proper identification necessary to vote.
According to Heck, there is a possibility that the voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act on the basis that it discriminates against minorities who do not have the prescribed forms of identification.