Herbert Dyer, Jr.

Another Wisconsin judge has declared that state’s new voter identification law unconstitutional. Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan, in a 20-page opinion, stated that Wisconsin’s photo identification requirement of voters presented a “substantial impairment of the right to vote” as laid out in and guaranteed by the Wisconsin state Constitution.

A temporary injunction issued by Judge Flanagan against the ID requirement had been in place since March. That injunction noted that the plaintiffs in the case – the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP, and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera – probably would win a permanent ban. On Tuesday, they did just that.

Also in March, another Dane County judge, Richard Niess, permanently banned voter identification legislation in a completely separate case argued by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Both orders would now have to be overturned on appeal in order for the voter identification law to be used in the November elections, an extremely unlikely occurrence. Yet, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/PeTAYX) that his office will definitely appeal this latest ruling by Judge Flanagan; and that Judge Niess’ order is already before an appeals court in Madison. Neither case is expected to be heard before the November elections. Thus, no identification (as described in the legislation) will be required for the August 14 primary nor the November 6 general elections.

The NAACP and Voces sued Gov. Scott Walker, who signed the bill, and the Government Accountability Board, which administers state elections. The governor’s office has remained mute as to this latest ruling.

The photo identification law was in effect during the February primary, but has been banned by the courts since then. The problem is that although the state provides a free photo identification card, the costs of obtaining underlying documentation supporting one’s identity (birth certificate, passport, etc.) can be prohibitive for large numbers of poor or even middle class people. As it stands now in Wisconsin, as many as 300,000 people do not have the appropriate photo identification cards. (Nationwide as many as 11 percent of the total voting population, or 5 million souls, have already been disenfranchised by these laws now spread across more than 30 states). It bears repeating: Under the governor’s and the legislature’s now banned law, 300,000 people in Wisconsin would have been barred from voting in November.

Judge Flanagan put it directly and succinctly: “The cost and the difficulty of obtaining documents necessary to apply for a photo ID is [sic] a substantial burden which falls most heavily upon low-income individuals,” he wrote in his order.

And, although supporters of the law claim that its only and pure purpose is to prevent “voter fraud,” Judge Flanagan ruled that such a law is specious on its face and “unlikely to protect the electoral process.” And, the "electoral process" is really what is at stake here.

The judge is simply stating the obvious. There has been no history of "voter fraud" in Wisconsin within living memory. However, there has been a number of cases of election fraud in terms of not counting or mis-counting of valid ballots, "loss" or misplacing of ballots, voting machine tampering, unauthorized movement of voting stations and voting hours, etc. None, not one, of these matters, however, is addressed in the governor's, the legislature's or the Accountability Board's efforts to supposedly ensure the legitimacy, accuracy and transparency of Wiconsin's election process.

As has been argued and demonstrated everywhere that these laws arise, and as the two Wisconsin judges recognize, they are promulgated, promoted and passed specifically and consciously to restrict the number of possible -- probable -- Democratic Party voters. These voters are overwhelmingly more likely to be seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, and students -- Democrats.

The Republican Party in Wisconsin has historically been a "minority" party in terms of sheer numbers of votes. Republicans win elections, especially in urban areas, only when Democrats do not vote -- for whatever reasons. Recognizing this, Walker's administration and the heretofore Republican-controlled state legislature, are attempting to enshrine into Wisconsin law their current false and temporary majority through the outright buying of elections on the front end while suppressing opposition voters on the back end.

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