Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise low income, minority and student voters, all of which tend to vote for Democrats. So it is no surprise they’ve become the darling of Republican state lawmakers interested in making it easier to keep their jobs and elect other Republicans to office. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), however, will not benefit from the voter suppressing law he signed — at least during his own upcoming recall election — thanks to a pair of decisions handed down by two state appeals courts:
A pair of appeals court rulings this week make clear the state’s new voter ID law will remain suspended through the May and June recall elections.
One of the opinions, released Thursday, said there was “no realistic possibility” the case would be decided before the June 5 recall election against Gov. Scott Walker and some of his fellow Republicans.
Walker and Republicans in the Legislature last year approved a new law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, but Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan issued an order temporarily blocking the requirement in a case brought by the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera.
A week later, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess permanently blocked the photo ID law because he said it violates the state constitution. That case was brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.
These decisions are good news for democracy in Wisconsin. Scott Walker has every right to remain governor if he faces the entire Wisconsin electorate and wins fair and square, but trying to rig the game by disenfranchising your opponent’s likely voters is beneath contempt.
It is also possible that Walker’s voter suppression law could even remain suspended through the November election. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin appeals courts typically take nine months or more to decide cases. Moreover, it is likely that the lower courts’ decisions striking down voter ID will be upheld by the courts of appeal. The text of the Wisconsin Constitution provides unusually strong protections against voter disenfranchisement, and Walker’s voter suppression law conflicts with at least 132 years of state supreme court precedent.
There is, of course, some risk that the increasingly partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court will ignore the state constitution, but even that is unlikely to happen until after the November election takes place. Earlier this month, the state justices turned down a request to fast-track the challenges to voter ID.