MADISON, Wis. — With evidence mounting that the state of Wisconsin is either unable or unwilling to properly administer the state’s voter ID law, federal Judge James Peterson held a hearing today on the motion of One Wisconsin Institute to suspend the state law in advance of the November election.
In July, Judge Peterson issued a ruling in One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v. Thomsen et. al. that invalidated numerous restrictions on voting, including prohibiting municipalities from offering evening and weekend voting and imposing severe limits on the number of days for early voting.
Peterson also found the state was unconstitutionally administering the voter ID law but was precluded from overturning it by higher court rulings. He wrote that “The evidence in this case casts doubt on the notion that voter ID laws foster integrity and confidence” and that the “… voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.” Peterson further singled out the ID petition process for legal voters with extenuating circumstances to get an ID necessary to vote as discriminating against minorities.
Since that time, numerous media reports about legal voters’ experiences trying to get an ID have shown that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Gov. Scott Walker’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has been derelict in providing accurate information. Members of the state Elections Commission, created by Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature, reported to the court they view state educational efforts to inform voters on the ID requirement as inadequate.
Gov. Walker’s administration, in response to Judge Peterson’s order that the state investigate issues related to the DMV, conducted an inquiry utilizing the State Patrol instead of the Department of Justice professional investigators. Officers of that agency, also part of the DOT and primarily responsible for patrolling state highways and providing security for the governor, went “undercover” posing as voters seeking IDs. The Walker administration’s investigation of the Walker administration reported no issues.
The following are the statements of One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Scot Ross:
“No legal voter should ever be denied the right to have their voice heard in elections because of bureaucratic malfeasance or the intentional actions of partisan politicians seeking an unfair electoral advantage.
“As Judge Peterson noted, left to their own devices, Gov. Walker’s administration and the Republican-controlled legislature that passed a voter ID law cannot be trusted to fairly administer it.
“This fight is far from over and it will not end until every legal voter in Wisconsin that wants to vote is able to do so and to have that vote counted.”