By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls has survived another legal challenge after a federal judge Thursday dismissed portions of a wide-ranging lawsuit alleging the mandate burdens the right to vote.
One Wisconsin Institute Inc., a liberal group; Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, a voting rights organization; and a half-dozen individual voters filed the lawsuit in June. They argued a number of provisions Republicans have added to state election law since they took over the Legislature in 2011, most prominently the photo ID requirement, violate the federal Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment and the equal protection clause.
U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued an order saying he has granted the state’s motion to dismiss the portion of the lawsuit challenging the voter ID requirements. He said the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already upheld the mandate in a separate case in October 2014. But he added he’s not convinced that the requirement promotes any confidence in the electoral process.
He also rejected another section of the lawsuit alleging that statutory changes impermissibly favor voters who move to Wisconsin from out of state.
The plaintiffs argued that voters who move into the state can vote for national offices immediately even though people who move within the state in the 28 days before an election must vote in their old wards. Peterson said under federal law Wisconsin can’t prohibit someone who moves into the state in the 28 days before an election from voting for president and vice president.
The judge, however, rejected the state’s request to dismiss another section of the lawsuit alleging the state has no basis for excluding technical college, out-of-state and certain expired identification cards from the list of valid photo identification. The plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the decision to exclude certain forms of ID was arbitrary, Peterson said.
He also refused to grant the state’s motion to toss sections of the lawsuit alleging that the statutory changes are intended to suppress Democratic-leaning votes. He said questions about whether the changes have actually burdened Democrats can’t be determined at this stage in the case.
Bobbie Wilson, the attorney representing One Wisconsin Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund and the voters didn’t immediately respond to an email.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican, issued a statement saying he looks forward to voter ID law going into effect in the 2016 elections, calling it a “common sense” measure.