In an unambiguous finding stating that "the legislature and governor have exceeded their constitutional authority" and that "voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression," a second Dane County Circuit court in less than a week, has determined that the Wisconsin GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction on voters is in strict violation of the state Constitution.
Today, in his 12-page ruling on the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess found that "Act 23," the new law which strips voters of their right to vote unless they are able to produce a state-issued Photo ID at the polling place violates the WI Constitution's Article III which guarantees the right to vote to all state residents who are 18 and over (Section 1) other than in cases where the legislature may place restrictions on convicted felons and those adjudicated to be incompetent (Section 2).
Niess has issued a permanent injunction on the law today, in a complaint filed last October by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin arguing that legally registered voters would be unconstitutionally barred from exercising their guaranteed right to vote under the Republican's new restrictive law.
"The motion documents reveal no disputed issue of material fact requiring further evidentiary proceedings. [The plaintiffs] present a purely legal issue ripe for decision," Niess declared in his ruling, stating that Article III of the state Constitution "is unambiguous, and means exactly what it says."
Last week, in response to a complaint filed the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, another Dane County Circuit Court Judge, Richard Flanagan, also ruled "Act 23" to be unconstitutional on a similar basis. He had issued a temporary injunction on the law in that case, in advance of the state's April primary elections. A trial is currently scheduled to begin on that complaint next month.
In response to both rulings now, the Republican State Attorney General has vowed to appeal, though both his legal and political basis for doing so may be quickly fading with today's second, nearly-identical finding from a second court.
There are also two complaints pending on a federal basis against the same Republican law in Wisconsin. In none of them has the GOP so far been able to demonstrate a case of voter fraud which might have been prevented by the new law. On the other hand, opponents have detailed a mountain of fact-based evidence demonstrating that otherwise legal voters will ultimately be disenfranchised if the law is allowed to take full effect in advance of this year's Presidential election, and as the state gears up for a new round of recall elections meant to unseat the very Republicans responsible for creating the state's new barrier to voting...