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Judge Orders Wisconsin to Create Affidavit for Voters Who Can't Get Photo ID by November Elections

Michael Newman, Flickr
Wisconsin's Spring Election is Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

Federal Judge Lynn Adelman ruled Tuesday that Wisconsin voters who can’t get government-issued photo identification by the November 8 election can sign an affidavit declaring who they are and why they haven't been able to get a photo ID. Then they could cast a ballot.

In Judge Adelman's ruling, he included a template for Wisconsin election officials to use in creating an affidavit:

I declare under penalty of perjury that I am the individual identified below, and that I have been unable to obtain acceptable photo identification with reasonable effort. This is due to the following reason(s): __ Lack of transportation __ Lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain photo ID __ Work schedule __ Disability or illness __ Family responsibilities __ Other (please identify): ___________________________ The affidavit shall have a space for the voter to print his or her name, a space for the voter’s signature, and a space for a date. The affidavit does not have to be notarized or sworn before any officer. The Elections Commission may include spaces on the affidavit that are to be completed by election officials for administrative purposes, such as a space for identifying the polling location at which the affidavit was received. The defendants shall ensure that copies of the affidavit are available at the polls and also to those who vote by absentee ballot. Any voter who completes and submits an affidavit shall receive a regular ballot, even if that voter does not show acceptable photo identification. No person may challenge the sufficiency of the reason given by the voter for failing to obtain ID. Finally, the defendants shall include the affidavit option in any publicity materials related to the photo ID requirement, shall train poll workers to inform voters who arrive at the polls without qualifying ID about the affidavit option, and shall otherwise make reasonable efforts to ensure that voters are made aware of the affidavit option.

He says he modeled it after the form North Carolina created.

Ever since Republican leaders passed Wisconsin’s photo ID law in 2011, it’s been tangled in court challenges and has been in effect only a few times. The state was planning to enforce the law this November, but the judge has agreed with the ACLU that some people need a safety net.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is defending the law and says it's considering its options. One is to appeal the preliminary injunction.

Adelman says his order would not be in effect for the August vote, because that's too soon for Wisconsin election officials to create an affidavit process.

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