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Sullivan writes: "A controversial voter ID law in Wisconsin, which critics fear will disenfranchise thousands of voters in the November midterm elections, must be implemented after a federal appeals court turned down a request to re-hear a legal challenge."

A voter casts his ballot at Country Keg & Pub Restaurant in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. (photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
A voter casts his ballot at Country Keg & Pub Restaurant in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. (photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)


Wisconsin Will Enact Voter ID Law Denounced as 'Recipe for Chaos'

By Zoe Sullivan, Guardian UK

28 September 14

 

Federal appeals court turns down request to hear challenge to law that rights advocates call a ploy to disenfranchise voters


controversial voter ID law in Wisconsin, which critics fear will disenfranchise thousands of voters in the November midterm elections, must be implemented after a federal appeals court turned down a request to re-hear a legal challenge.

The seventh circuit court of appeals in Chicago declined to take up the application to hear the challenge before its full panel of judges. On 12 September, three judges stayed an injunction issued by a district court that had prevented the law’s implementation.

With less than six weeks to go until the 4 November midterms, voter-rights advocates fear chaos as people rush to get the required identification, and confusion at the polls as election workers and voters struggle with the new rules.

Previous testimony in the case indicated that about 300,000 people who had previously been eligible to vote will have difficulty obtaining the identification now needed to cast their ballots. The plaintiffs in the voter ID cases include Ruthelle Frank, the League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, and the Advancement Project.

Friday’s order stated that the judges were divided on whether to re-hear the case. It also stated: “Chief Judge Wood and Judges Posner, Rovner, Williams and Hamilton voted to hear this matter en banc. In the coming days, members of the court may file opinions explaining their votes.”

According to Wisconsin Public Radio, all five judges who rejected the request for a re-hearing were appointed by Republicans, as were two of the five who voted in favor of the petition.

Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election is a hotly contested struggle between the Republican incumbent, Scott Walker, whose 2011 budget proposal led to weeks of protests at the state capitol, and Democrat Mary Burke, formerly a top executive with the Trek bicycle company of Waterloo, Wisconsin.

Election law expert Rick Hasen, of the University of California-Irvine Law School, posted an analysis of the decision on his Election Law blog, suggesting the plaintiffs would likely head to the supreme court. He wrote: “This is a really egregious order changing the rules midstream in violation of the supreme court’s own admonition in the Purcell v Gonzalez case.”

A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, which requested the re-hearing, pointed out that the decision does not concern the merits of the law itself, which a federal judge ruled unconstitutional earlier this year.

In the statement, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said: “Allowing this law to take effect so close to the midterm election is a recipe for chaos, voter confusion, and disenfranchisement.”

Professor Matt Barretto of the University of Washington, an expert on race and voting rights, presented testimony during the case that “Blacks are 182% more likely to lack accepted ID, and Latinos are 206% more likely to lack accepted ID than are whites”.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice sent an email in response to requests for comment, stating: “We have nothing to add regarding today’s denial for a rehearing en banc in the federal voter ID cases.”

The state attorney general filed a brief with the seventh circuit court of appeals on Tuesday, asking that it refuse to re-hear the case.

Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, expressed disappointment with the order.

“There likely will be thousands of provisional ballots that won’t be counted,” she said. “We’ll never know how many already registered voters will just give up and not even try to get an ID.”

Nonetheless, she said, the decision could also galvanize people to insist on getting the new ID.

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+10 # RMDC 2014-09-28 07:49
Is it really democracy when elections are controlled by one faction? It is not just voting that is being restricted to one class of people -- the white middle class. The selection of candidates is closed to anyone who is not part of the Rep/Dem duopoly. These two parties are really the same party of the military-indust rial-Israeli complex. They only differ in style and a few hot-buttion social issues. But in substance they are the same. Obama is for all practical purposes the same as Bush.

Paul Weyrich is famous for having said that conservatives only win elections when fewer people vote. The South has been finding ways of excluding African Americans from voting for -- well -- 238 years, since the US was created. Voter suppression is as American as apple pie.

But do you really have a democracy when so few people actually take part in the voting? I don't think so. America is an oligarchy.
 
 
+5 # Saberoff 2014-09-28 10:10
I find your remarks fairly flippant, RMDC. First: In the mid-nineteenth century my ancestors (Germans), and thousands of others, settled in Wisconsin Because of this state's clean(er) politics, and religious freedoms. It was our Senator, U.S. Representative and Governor, Robert M. Lafayette, who first used the term Progressive! to describe a political platform. His base consisted of German Americans, railroad workers, the AFL labor unions, the Non-Partisan League, the Socialist Party, Western farmers, and many of the "Bull Moose" Progressives who had supported Roosevelt in 1912. Labor unions were founded here.

Today we have some good, progressive Democrats such as US Senator, Tammy Baldwin, and Second District Congressional Representative, Mark Pocan.

You are right about the two parties being indistinguishab le, but that's more national stuff (seems to me the higher the politicos rise the more corrupt they become). Most of our elected locals here in the city, and even at the state level, Are trying to serve their constituents.

I am not buying into your stand (jaded): It's happening everywhere... so goes Wisconsin!
 
 
+6 # bigkahuna671 2014-09-28 14:33
Saberoff, do you mean La Follette? Unfortunately, Wisconsin voters are in a serious hurt. I'm a frequent visitor to your state and Scott Walker and his thugs have destroyed the proud reputation of one of the finest states in the Union. Your education system is on the verge of collapse due to his cutting of education monies and your social services haven't been as bad as they are now since before Fighting Bob La Follette's time.
 
 
+4 # RMDC 2014-09-28 21:25
Wisconsin used to be a very progressive and socialist state. La Follette was a socialist. Socialism came to Wisconsin with German immigrants like your grandparents. But things in Wisconsin have changed. The state has been taken over by the Tea party and by ALEC. Sure, there are still some socialists, but they really have no power any more.

The Univ. of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has some of the best Marxist scholars around. Madison is OK.
 
 
+1 # Saberoff 2014-09-29 07:32
Thanks both above. Yes, I misspelled La Follette: a sorry blunder.
 

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