Federal appeals court orders Wisconsin's voter ID law to be reinstated

CHICAGO/MILWAUKEE (AP/WITI) — A federal appeals court has reinstated Wisconsin's voter photo identification law.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman struck the law down as unconstitutional in April, saying it unfairly burdens poor and minority voters who may lack such identification. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to overturn that ruling.

The 7th Circuit issued a ruling late Friday afternoon lifting Aldeman's stay and allowing the law to go into effect before the November elections.

State attorneys asked a three-judge 7th Circuit panel during oral arguments on Friday to immediately reinstate the law.

Van Hollen's appeal remains in play, however. The judges say they'll issue a ruling on the merits later.

Here's a look at the forms of ID that are acceptable:

    In April, the state's voter ID law was ruled unconstitutional, and a stay was issued.

    Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen appealed to overturn that ruling. Meanwhile, state attorneys asked a panel of judges to lift the stay, and allow the law to go into effect -- prior to the November elections.

    In response to the Director of the Government Accountability Board, Kevin Kennedy issued a statement:

    "We are taking every step to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November general election. We are now focused on communicating with local election officials and voters, and will have more information about the details next week."

    The judges will determine the merits of attorney general Van Hollen's appeal at a later date, but as of this afternoon Wisconsin voters will need to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballots.

    Voter ID opponents are outraged, saying it unnecessarily burdens people lacking birth certificates or proper identification.

    "For many voters this requires scores of hours of time and expenditures of money just to navigate your way through the various governmental bureaucracies just to get a voter ID," said Attorney, Richard Saks.

    Those in favor of the law say it helps stop voter fraud.

    "We don't want to block access to anyone from elections, but what we want to ensure is that anyone who is there to vote, is there legally to vote," said Republican State Senate from River Hills, Alberta Darling.

    Something opponents disagree with and vow to continue to fight.

    "We believe in voting, and the right to vote and making the vote available to everyone, so we will not be dissuaded from that effort," said Milwaukee NAACP President, James Hall.

    While the judge's lifted what is known as a "stay," they did not make a final decision. They say that is coming in the future.

    Governor Scott Walker released the following statement in response to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding Wisconsin's voter ID legislation:

    "The ruling is a win for the electoral process and voters of Wisconsin. Voter ID is a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process. It's important that voters have confidence in the system. Today's ruling makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

    The following statement is from Mary Burke's camp regarding the ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals:

    "Mary Burke believes that every eligible voter who wants to cast a ballot, should have the freedom to do so. Today is another reminder of the clear choice in this Election. Governor Walker chooses to play politics on issue after issue, even on the most fundamental freedom of them all, the freedom to cast a ballot. Mary Burke is committed to common sense problem solving and getting results. That's the kind of Governor she'll be, and 53 days from now we're confident that voters will reject Gov. Walker's politics first approach and vote for a new direction with Mary Burke."

    Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued the following statement after today's ruling by the Seventh District Court of Appeals:

    "Today's decision is a victory for common sense, fair elections, and the right of every eligible voter to cast a vote that will count. This ruling vindicates the law and our efforts to ensure the policy of this state will be in effect for November's election. My staff and I will work with the Government Accountability Board to ensure every eligible voter will be able to cast a ballot."

    Mayor Barrett issued a statement regarding today's decision on voter ID:

    "We think this is a step back in time to the era prior to the Voting Rights Act that established fairness in elections.  We continue to advocate with the legislature to encourage voter participation, not discourage it.  There is a disparity in the population that will be most affected---people in poverty, students and seniors.  While it is just 45 days prior to the Election, with an anticipated voter turnout comparable to a presidential election, the City of Milwaukee will be prepared and do everything to ensure its residents still have a smooth voting experience."

    Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Government Accountability Board, issued this statement on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' order staying the injunction in the Wisconsin voter photo ID case:

    “We are taking every step to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November General Election.  We are now focused on communicating with local election officials and voters, and will have more information about the details next week.”

    Statement from Chris Ahmuty, ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director:

    "We are very disappointed in the damaging decision to lift the injunction against Voter ID, which will cause chaos and disruption for voters and elections workers for the November election.  The state has not demonstrated it is prepared to make this new ID scheme work.  The new procedures were presented at the last second and it is unclear whether or how they will work in time to ensure that eligible voters are actually able to vote. It has not demonstrated how it will train 1,852 municipal clerks and tens of thousands of poll workers, as well as notifying voters of the new rules. We will continue to review and closely monitor this decision."

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