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Groups to ask judge to allow some people without IDs to vote

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Groups advocating for voting rights said they will soon ask a federal judge to allow people to vote in Wisconsin’s August primary election if they are having trouble getting a required ID.

The request comes even as attorneys for the state Department of Justice are trying to put the case on hold.

The American Civil Liberties Union will be filing a motion in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee soon to make sure “voters who face a reasonable impediment to getting an ID” can still vote with an affidavit, said the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project attorney Sean Young on Tuesday.

A federal appeals court in April ruled that the ACLU and another group challenging the law, the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty, could seek such an order.

Under the law, voters must show one of the following in order to vote: a Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card, a U.S. passport, military ID card, college IDs meeting certain requirements, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a Wisconsin-based American Indian tribe. Residents can apply for a state ID with the Department of Motor Vehicles but must prove personal details and citizenship.

Attorneys for the state Department of Justice, who are defending the law, want the ACLU’s lawsuit to be put on hold immediately. They asked U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in a letter submitted Monday to halt proceedings while another similar lawsuit in Madison is pending.

A ruling in the Madison case, which challenges elements of the voter ID law and more than a dozen other election-related changes made since 2011, is not expected until late July. U.S. District Judge James Peterson has said any decision he makes will come too late to affect the Aug. 9 primary.

Adelman held a status hearing on the case Tuesday. Young, the ACLU attorney, said the judge indicated he was “not inclined” to put the case on hold. A spokesman for DOJ did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 and attempted to strike down the entire voter ID law as an unconstitutional burden on poor and minority voters who may not have an ID. While Adelman agreed, a federal appeals court last year upheld the law.

The ACLU and the national homeless center have continued to argue, however, that voters who face stiff hurdles in getting a photo ID should be allowed to vote by affidavit. They say those voters include people who can’t obtain IDs because of name mismatches or other errors in birth certificates or other necessary documents; those who need a credential from another agency such as the Social Security Administration that they can’t get without a state photo ID; or those who need a document that no longer exists.

Associated Press writer Todd Richmond also contributed to this report.

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