A Dane County judge placed an injunction on the highly controversial voter ID law until further notice.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan, who signed a recall petition against Gov. Scott Walker, wrote in his order that Voces de la Frontera and the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who brought a lawsuit against Walker and the Government Accountability Board, adequately demonstrated the likelihood of irreparable harm from the voter ID bill. Flanagan ordered that the requirement of photo ID for voters not be enforced, pending the trial of the case.
As a consequence, voters who head to the polls for the presidential primary in April will not be required to vote under the provisions of the voter ID law.
According to Mike Mikalsen, spokesperson for Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, the injunction is not a surprise for Republicans in the Legislature.
“We fully anticipated that Judge Flanagan was going to wait until the most opportune time to issue such an injunction so that the voter ID law will not be in effect for both the April election, and potentially the recall elections,” Mikalsen said.
Mikalsen added that Flanagan’s signing of a recall petition exhibits the partiality of the judge’s order. Mikalsen called Flanagan’s decision “disgraceful.”
Flanagan wrote in his order that testimony from University of Wisconsin political science professor Kenneth Mayer provided “competent, well-founded, entirely credible and persuasive” reports that stated burdens created by the voter ID law fall disproportionately in a heavy way on the elderly and members of racial minorities.
As a result of this testimony and other evidence of irreparable harm, Flanagan placed the injunction on the law.
The case is one of four lawsuits filed against the voter ID law, including one filed by the League of Women’s Voters.
A Monday court decision by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess allowed the lawsuit filed by the League to proceed because the organization demonstrated standing to bring the suit, despite arguments made by Walker and the GAB that the law did not sufficiently harm the plaintiffs.
In court documents obtained by The Badger Herald, Niess wrote that League president Melanie Ramey had standing because she demonstrated that she had a “personal interest in the controversy.” He also wrote Ramey would be threatened with future injury, because she would continually be required to renew her photo ID form in order to vote.
According to League of Women’s Voters member Andrea Kaminski, a hearing will be held Friday to determine the future of the lawsuit.
UW political science professor Donald Downs, who is an adviser to The Badger Herald, said the voter ID lawsuits may succeed at the district or circuit court level in Dane County because of the perceived liberal nature of the county. However, Downs added the lawsuits may encounter opposition should they reach the Wisconsin Supreme Court because of the current conservative majority of justices.
Mikalsen said he was hopeful the lawsuits would fail and cited a U.S. Supreme Court case that pointed to such an outcome, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, which ruled Indiana’s similar voter ID law was constitutional.
Flanagan also cited the Crawford decision in his order, writing that it could not be applied in the case of Voces de la Frontera, because this case is founded on a statute of the Wisconsin Constitution that expressly guarantees the right to vote.
Downs said plaintiffs in each voter ID lawsuit will be expected to differentiate their case from the Crawford decision to win.
“It’s up to the plaintiffs in this case to show why the Wisconsin law is unconstitutional after the [U.S.] Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s law in 2006,” Downs said. “That is what the case is all about.”
Gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk spokesperson Scot Ross said if elected in the potential recall election against Walker, Falk would work to overturn the voter ID law.
Ross added after three years of investigation by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, there have been less than 20 improper votes out of 3 million that were cast in 2008.
“This bill makes it harder for legal voters such as seniors, students and minorities that don’t have the necessary identification to vote,” Ross said. “Republicans may say there is all this voter fraud, but fact is there have been less than 20 cases of improper votes.”
Flanagan wrote in his order that Mayer testified voter fraud is highly unlikely because of the high costs of a potential felony arrest and low benefits.