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Voter ID opponents demand re-hearing

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Civil rights advocates said Tuesday they plan to ask the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear their challenge to Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project released a statement saying they planned to file a motion with the court Tuesday asking for a re-hearing en banc, a proceeding that usually involves around 10 judges rather than the three who typically decide cases.

The court rarely grants such requests, but the two groups vowed to exhaust every legal option to stop the law.

“The fundamental right to vote in Wisconsin is at stake if this law is not stopped now, and attorneys for Advancement Project and ACLU will pursue all legal avenues to ensure that elections are free, fair and accessible to all Wisconsin voters,” their statement read.

Republican lawmakers passed a law in 2011 requiring people to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls to vote. Because of legal challenges, the requirement had not been enforced since the February 2012 primary.

The Advancement Project and the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging the mandate in 2011, the same year it was passed. A federal judge in Milwaukee found the law unconstitutional this spring, but Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the 7th Circuit to overturn that decision.

A three-judge 7th Circuit panel — all appointed by former Republican presidents — ruled Friday that the state could implement the law while it considers the merits of the case. The ruling has sent state election officials scrambling to prepare for the requirement ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

The ACLU and the Advancement Project said in their statement that issuing such a ruling so close to an election is unprecedented. They said the ruling will create widespread confusion and could prevent more than 300,000 people who lack photo IDs from voting.

A Van Hollen spokeswoman declined to comment.

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