Wisconsin's Voter ID law will not be in effect for April 7th election; but it will be after that

WASHINGTON (WITI/AP) — After years of legal wrangling, it appears Wisconsin's Voter ID law will soon be in effect -- but Attorney General Brad Schimel says that won't happen in time for the April 7th election.

Schimel said Monday, March 23rd that because absentee voting has already begun, it is too late to implement the law for this election. But he says it will be in effect after that.

This, after the United States Supreme Court announced earlier Monday it won't hear a challenge to the law -- clearing the way for it to take effect.

"First thing this morning, we heard the decision that the Supreme Court was not going to hear the appeal of Wisconsin's Voter ID case," Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said.

Now, the question is exactly when the Voter ID law would take effect in Wisconsin.

"We were waiting to hear from the state Department of Justice," Czarnezki said.

The DOJ on Monday issued a statement that reads in part:

"Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters. Therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7th election. The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections. This decision is final."

The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal appeals court to block implementation of the law for the April 7th election. In-person absentee voting began for the election on Monday.

"If the law is now implemented with the spring elections in 2016, the local election officials will have time to train the election inspectors to check for Voter ID," Czarnezki said.

Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy says he expects there to be special elections later this year where the IDs will be required.

Schimel issued the following statement in regards to this development:

"Our legal team did an outstanding job defending Wisconsin law, from the trial court to the U.S. Supreme Court. Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election. The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections – this decision is final."

Gov. Scott Walker issued this statement:

"This is great news for Wisconsin voters.  As we’ve said, this is a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat."

State Sen. Mark Miller (D - Monona) issued this statement:

“I am disappointed by the failure of the United States Supreme Court to take up the challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID law. The Court’s inaction allows Wisconsin to institute a voter restrictive policy in the near future. I am pleased to see that Attorney General Brad Schimel recognized the chaos that would ensue from implementing this policy during our current election and has put on hold the implementation until after April 7th.

“I am appalled by the importance placed on restricting the constitutional right to vote. Making it harder for seniors, students, minorities, rural residents and persons with disabilities to vote does not enhance the integrity of our elections. Voter ID is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem while disenfranchising voters.

“I am again disheartened to see how little respect Wisconsin Republicans have for freedom and democracy.”

State Sen.  Leah Vukmir (R - Wauwatosa) issued this statement:

"I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has turned away the challenge to our state’s photo ID law,” said Vukmir. “This decision is a victory for the voters of Wisconsin.

"The high court put the ruling on hold last year ahead of the November elections as many absentee ballots had already been mailed without proof of voter ID. Senator Vukmir says the law being enacted is long overdue. “It’s been nearly 4 years since Governor Walker signed the bill. Wisconsin voters can now be confident their voices will be heard and that ballots will be legally cast in future elections."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate issued this statement:

“It’s unbelievable that 50 years after the march on Selma voting rights are still under attack by Republicans like Scott Walker who know that they can only win by limiting the voices of those who disagree with them.

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court to refuse to hear arguments on the Wisconsin law that makes it harder for seniors, students, veterans, and minorities to exercise their rights at the ballot box comes as voting is already underway in a statewide election and after a clean, fair November 2014 election where voter ID was not required – this is a solution in search of a problem.

“Despite the barriers that Republicans attempt to erect, voters in Wisconsin will continue to make their voices heard at the ballot box. Voter ID might now be the law of the land, but our work is not done and our fight is not over until every eligible voter who wants to cast a ballot is able to do so.”

State Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) has issued this statement:

“After nearly four years, a law that is supported by nearly 70% of Wisconsin voters has finally overcome the legal challenges that has prevented it from becoming an effective tool in preserving and protecting out most basic right.  I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for not hearing the unwarranted challenges against Voter ID and finally laying the groundwork to implement the law properly.

“Counties throughout Wisconsin used Photo ID measures in an earlier spring election prior to legal challenges.  However, I stand with Attorney General Schimel in his call to enact the law properly so it is effective for future elections."

Rock County Circuit Court Judge and April 7th Wisconsin Supreme Court challenger James Daley issued this statement:

"Today the United States Supreme Court did the right thing in affirming Wisconsin's voter identification law, further enhancing the security of our state's elections.  My opponent in the April 7th election for Supreme Court, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, remains the leader of the shrinking chorus of dissenters who refuse to join the Supreme Court, state legislators and public who recognize the need for this commonsense election security measure.  Together, we can score another victory for commonsense in the April 7th election by ending Ann Walsh Bradley's reign of activism on the bench."

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) issued this statement:

After a needless four year delay by opponents, I’m glad the US Supreme Court has finally ruled that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is, and always was, constitutional. This common sense reform helps ensure integrity in our election process and holds true to our principle of one-person, one-vote.”

State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) issued this statement:

“I am dismayed to see that the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear this case on the voter suppression law that, as it now stands, will disenfranchise thousands of citizens in our state. This arbitrary law showcases the lengths Wisconsin Republicans will go to suppress rights of Wisconsinites. Their actions are nothing but a thinly veiled attack on our constitutionally guaranteed freedom to vote.  It may be legal, but it’s simply un-American.

“Wisconsin,  used to be renowned for is progressive approach to state government, now under Republican rule, it seems to be stuck in a regressive era where we are  hastily dismantling laws and policies that represent our shared values, and were national models.

“Other states in the union are doing the exact opposite of what we are doing in Wisconsin. They are looking to increase access to the ballot by implementing online voter registration and allowing for more early voting options. In the case of Oregon, they recently passed legislation that automatically registers everyone over the age of 18 to vote. These are the types of progressive policies we should be pursuing in Wisconsin.

“Although arbitrary, we must take steps to ensure that all citizens will be informed about these new restrictions on their freedom, and be able to cast their vote. My Democratic colleagues and I stand ready to assist our neighbors with any questions or concerns they may have regarding obtaining the proper documents and identification to vote.”