MADISON (WITI) -- Wisconsin's Voter ID Law was reinstated by a federal court late last week, and now, local election officials are scrambling to figure things out just 50 days before voters head to the polls.
A three-judge panel with the federal appeals court in Chicago essentially reinstated Wisconsin's Voter ID Law, saying: "The State of Wisconsin may, if it wishes enforce the photo ID requirement in this November`s elections" -- adding that the Wisconsin law is "materially identical to Indiana`s photo ID statute, which the Supreme Court held valid."
"It wasn't surprising. This was a court made up of only Republican appointees," Wisconsin Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said.
The ruling was condemned by Democrats, who see the law as a way to suppress voters in key Democratic constituencies.
"It's highly intended to stop young people from voting, to stop the elderly from voting and to stop people of color from voting," Senator Larson said.
Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) who authored last session's election reform laws and advocated for voter ID says the ruling is a positive step.
"The sanctity of our vote is the most important thing we have in this country. No one can deny that voter fraud does occur. The question is how much?" Rep. Stroebel said.
On Monday, September 15th, the state of Wisconsin began giving out free IDs at DMV locations.
The Voter ID Law was originally passed in 2011. It was in place for just one election -- the 2012 primary, where voter turnout was only eight percent.
For this November's general election, turnout is expected to be 10 times that -- close to 80 percent.
"This was already going to be a very busy election for those election workers, and we're talking about a really significant change to how the process works," Milwaukee Election Commissioner Neil Albrecht said.
Albrecht says his biggest concern is absentee ballots. Across the state, nearly 12,000 absentee ballots have already been requested without the use of photo IDs. In Milwaukee, more than 8,000 absentee ballots are set to be sent out.
"Just today, we were going to be sending out our absentee ballots, so fortunately, we were able to put the brakes on that process," Albrecht said.
The state's Government Accountability Board is allowing voters to send in a copy of their photo ID with the absentee ballot when it is returned.
In Milwaukee, more than 2,000 poll workers must know the ins and outs of the law, so voting runs smoothly on November 4th.
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