Wisconsin's Voter Photo-ID Law Is Upheld on Appeal

A Wisconsin appeals court ruled that a law requiring voters to present photo identification doesn’t violate the state’s constitution, reversing a decision that made the requirements unavailable for the 2012 presidential election.

An appellate court in Madison, ruling in a challenge to the law by the Wisconsin branch of the League of Women Voters, threw out one of two rulings from last year that found the statute invalid.

“We conclude only that the League has not shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the photo identification requirement is, on its face, ‘so difficult and inconvenient as to amount to a denial’ of the right to vote,” a three-judge panel said in a 40-page opinion.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess, who presided over the League case, in March 2012 ruled the law requiring otherwise eligible voters to present a government-issued photo identification before being allowed to cast their ballots was an unconstitutional burden.

First-term Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, signed the voter ID measure into law in 2011.

“While today’s decision is an important step toward full vindication of the law, we recognize that other challenges are still pending that address different issues,” Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said a statement. “We will continue to defend the law and look forward to favorable decisions in those other cases as well.”

League Director

Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network Inc., which filed the suit, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on the ruling.

The state also appealed a ruling by Dane County Judge David Flanagan, who invalidated the law in July after a trial in a case brought by the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The case decided today is League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network Inc. v. Walker, 2012AP584, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV (Madison).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

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

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