Balanced Coverage: reaction to voter ID law ruling

A voter casts his ballot at the De Pere Community Center, April 1, 2014. (WLUK/Pauleen Le)
A voter casts his ballot at the De Pere Community Center, April 1, 2014. (WLUK/Pauleen Le)

GRAND CHUTE - It's looking unlikely you'll need your ID when you head to the polls this fall.  Tuesday, a federal judge struck down the state law requiring voters show identification.  The law had already been on hold, because of different legal challenges.

Tuesday's ruling came from a Milwaukee based judge.  Judge Lynn Adelman, who served 20 years as a Democratic state senator, said the law puts an unfair burden on low-income and minority voters.

Opponents of they law say they are feeling vindicated by the decision and while supporters say this is a setback, they say the fight is not yet over.

Democratic State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber told FOX 11 she's happy with the decision to strike down the voter ID law.

"When it first came out we said it was unconstitutional," she said.

The law requires voters to show a government-issued ID, most commonly a driver's license.  Tuesday's federal ruling called the law unconstitutional, saying it violates what's called the "guarantee of equal protection."

"There are a lot of people in Wisconsin who just do not have access to the type of ID that's being required in this bill," Schaber explained.

Judge Adelman's ruling said minority and low-income voters are less likely to have or be able to obtain those necessary forms of identification.

Supporters of the law, however, say there are measures within to help people get those ID's.

Republican State Senator Robert Cowles, says the law is necessary to prevent voter fraud.

"We should have certainty at the polling place, as far as the vote and if you have an id it makes it far more likely you're going to have that certainty," he explained.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation told us the federal judge found little evidence of voter fraud in the state and even said the law would do little to stop it.

"There was evidence at trial of people who had double voted using their driver's licenses to register a double vote," explained ACLU senior staff attorney Karyn Rotker.

Republican State Representative Dave Murphy told FOX 11 the law may not stop all crimes, but he says it would help.

"They're a tool to help improve the situation.  The voter id law would cut down on some voter fraud," Murphy explained, going on to say the law is also a tool to help detect instances of voter fraud.

Governor Walker has said in the past he'd consider bringing legislators into a special voting session to rework the law.  However, his office wouldn't say Tuesday whether that will still happen.

Both Governor Walker and state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen have defended the law, saying they believe it to be constitutional.

Van Hollen said he will appeal the federal judge's decision.  The ACLU said it will fight that appeal.

The state supreme court has also heard arguments in two lawsuits related to this law.  Justices will need to decide if the law follows the state constitution.  It's not clear when a ruling will be issued.

Tuesday's federal ruling would also need to be overturned on appeal for the law to go through.