A federal judge has struck down Wisconsin's voter identification law.
The judge on April 29 found that the requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls imposes an unfair burden on poor and minority voters.
Ruling from Milwaukee, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said the law violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. The decision could set a precedent for challenges in other states, including Texas and North Carolina.
The Wisconsin measure passed in 2011 and was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle had previously vetoed similar measures on three occasions.
The federal challenge is a combination of two complaints — one from the American Civil Liberties Union and another from the United Latin American Citizens.
The trial took place in November and was, according to the ACLU, the first federal trial under the Voting Rights Act since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the law last summer.
The ALCU of Wisconsin, in a news release this afternoon, said it was among just a handful of cases to challenge voter ID under VRA's Section 2, which bans voting practices that have a disparate negative impact on racial minorities.
"This law had robbed many Wisconsin citizens of their right to vote. Today, the court made it clear that those discriminatory actions cannot stand," stated Karyn Rotker, ACLU of Wisconsin senior staff attorney.
"This is a warning to other states that are trying to make it harder for citizens to vote,” added Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “This decision put them on notice that they can't tamper with citizens' fundamental right to cast a ballot. The people, and our democracy, deserve and demand better.”
The law also is the focus of lawsuits at the state level brought by the NAACP in Milwaukee and the state chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, in a statement this afternoon, said, “I am disappointed with the order and continue to believe Wisconsin’s law is constitutional. We will appeal.”