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 kept the law from being enforced in 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, ruled in March 2012 that 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 ID measure into law in 2011 as a way of preventing voter fraud.

“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 today 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, said she was disappointed with the ruling and that her group was considering its options.

“Today’s decision by the court was a limited one,” she said in a phone interview. “They declined to find it unconstitutional in absence of evidence that it impairs qualified citizens to vote. There are other cases still pending in both state and federal court that do demonstrate the impairment issue.”

She said evidence submitted to the court in those cases shows that 300,000 people could be blocked from voting.

The state has 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. That ruling has also kept the law from being enforced.

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