Wisconsin Judge Won’t Stay Ruling to Invalidate Voter ID Law

A Wisconsin judge refused to halt enforcement of his ruling that the state’s voter identification law is unconstitutional.

Wisconsin Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess in Madison today denied a request by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the state agency that administers elections to enforce the ID law while they appeal his March 12 decision that it burdened otherwise qualified voters with a statutory requirement not found in the state’s constitution.

“An unconstitutional law is void ab initio,” Niess wrote, using a Latin phrase meaning from the inception. “It is as if it never existed. Therefore there can be no justification for enforcement.”

Signed into law by Governor Scott K. Walker in May, the measure required voters to present a government-issued photographic form of identification at their polling place such as a driver’s license, passport or military or college ID, before being permitted to vote.

Wisconsin is scheduled to hold its spring election and presidential primary on April 3.

Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, said he will seek similar relief from the state’s intermediate-level appellate court. The attorney general has already asked that court for permission to take his challenge directly to the state’s Supreme Court.

The case is League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker, 11cv4669, Dane County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court (Madison).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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