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Republican leaders say no time for voter ID special session (UPDATE)

Sen. Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, directs a question during a hearing in Madison, Wis. The Republican Senate President will not seek re-election this fall, following the release of a secretly recorded video in which he discusses an illegal campaign finance scheme. Ellis's spokesman Scott Kelly confirmed Friday, April 11, 2014, that Ellis was dropping out, marking the end of a 44-year legislative career. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart, File)

Sen. Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, directs a question during a hearing in Madison recently. Ellis said calling a special session to pass a voter ID law would be an “exercise in futility.” (AP File Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — There is not enough time for the Legislature to convene in special session and pass a voter identification law that can be in effect for the November election, Republican state Senate leaders said in the wake of a federal court ruling striking down the law.

The Legislature passed, and Gov. Scott Walker signed, the voter ID requirement in 2011. But it was quickly challenged in court and put on hold in 2012. Two cases are pending in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in addition to the federal lawsuit that resulted in the law being found unconstitutional.

In order for it to be in effect for November, the state Supreme Court would have to rule that it doesn’t violate the state constitution, and the federal court decision would have to be overturned on appeal.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said Tuesday that he would expedite review of any new law passed by the Legislature, but he also cast doubt that it would be constitutional.

“Given the evidence presented at trial showing that Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to lack an ID, it is difficult to see how an amendment to the photo ID requirement could remove its disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result,” Adelman wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Wisconsin State Journal in a story published Thursday (http://tiny.cc/lzm6ex ) that the court ruling leaves little room for the Legislature to act.

“It’s not going to be resolved for the November election,” Fitzgerald said.

Republican Senate President Mike Ellis agreed, saying calling a special session to pass a voter ID law would be an “exercise in futility.”

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said on a conservative radio talk show Wednesday that he still would like the Legislature to convene this year to take up a revised voter ID bill, though he fears it would still be tangled up in the courts come Election Day.

The state Department of Justice is appealing Tuesday’s ruling.

Walker has said he’s confident the law will be upheld on appeal. But Walker also told the State Journal that there was little hope that changing the law would satisfy Adelman, a former Democratic state senator. Adelman ruled that the law violated not only the U.S. Constitution but also the federal Voting Rights Act.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj


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