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Politics & Government

Federal Judge Strikes Down Several of Wisconsin's New Voting Rules

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Some new election rules that Gov. Walker and Republican legislators approved unconstitutionally target certain populations of voters - including minorities, students and others who tend to lean Democratic, particularly in the City of Milwaukee, according to U.S. District Judge James Peterson. He ordered the state late Friday to scrap those new requirements.

One restricts early voting to workweek hours. Beforehand, the City of Milwaukee additionally offered early in-person voting during evenings and on weekends. The judge also struck-down the state’s new 28-day residency rule for voters, which had replaced the old 10-day standard. And Peterson determined that students should be able to use old student ID cards for identification purposes, just as people can use expired driver’s licenses.

Supporters of the new voting laws insist they are intended to deter fraud and give people more confidence in elections. Opponents, including the group One Wisconsin Institute which sued, have argued that fraud is extremely rare and the real intent of the new rules has been to disenfranchise voters in Democratic areas.

Just a few weeks ago, another federal judge Lynn Adelman told Wisconsin that it must accommodate people who can’t meet its new photo ID requirement. He ordered the state to design an affidavit which would allow voters who can’t get photo identification to list the reason and their signature.

Both judges' decisions will be in place for the November 8th election, unless appeals succeed, but neither ruling will impact the upcoming August 9th primary.