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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Indiana Courts - "Electoral Chaos in Wisconsin"

In 2007 the 7th Circuit decided the Indiana voter ID case, Crawford v. Rokita. This week the 7th Circuit ruled in another voter ID case, this one re the State of Wisconsin, Frank v. Walker. Today the NY Times writes in an editorial that begins:

It is difficult to understand the reasoning of the federal appeals court panel that permitted Wisconsin officials to enforce a controversial voter ID law less than two months before Election Day. That’s partly because the panel’s five-paragraph order, issued late Friday only hours after oral arguments, offered the barest rationale for lifting the stay that Judge Lynn Adelman of the federal district court had placed on the law in April.

Judge Adelman issued a remarkably thorough 70-page opinion finding that the law violated both the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution by making voting harder for a substantial number of Wisconsinites — disproportionately those who are minority and poorer, and who tend to vote Democratic. (The law, passed in 2011 by a Republican-controlled Legislature but since tied up in lawsuits, requires prospective voters to present a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport.)

Regardless of how the appeals panel eventually responds to the merits of Judge Adelman’s ruling, its interim decision to lift the stay has thrown the Wisconsin midterm elections into chaos. The state had already mailed out almost 12,000 absentee ballots that did not include any identification requirement. It is unclear how those ballots will be counted. Officials say recent fixes in the law make it easier to get an ID, but that may not help hundreds of thousands of residents get the required ID in time.

Rick Hasen, a professor of election law at the University of California, Irvine, called the panel’s decision “a big, big mistake” on his blog. He added: “It is hard enough to administer an election with set rules — much less to change the rules midstream.”

Read the NYT editorial here; it has many additional links.

For a different take, see this post today at Wisconsin Appellate Law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 16, 2014 01:38 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts