Saturday, July 30, 2016

Federal Judge Overturns More Of Walker's Voter Restrictions

Earlier this week, a federal court struck down North Carolina's restrictive Voter ID law.

On Friday, democracy was partially restored in Wisconsin when a federal judge overturned several of Walker's voting suppression laws, including early and weekend voting:
Restrictions on early and weekend voting implemented by Wisconsin Republicans over the last five years are unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson found a series of other voting changes signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker to be unconstitutional, but did not overturn the state's photo identification requirement.

"Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease," Peterson wrote, before noting he is bound by earlier cases in Wisconsin and Indiana to reject the challenge to the law in its entirety.


Peterson — who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2014 — also overturned laws that increased the residency requirement for voters from 10 days to 28 days, prohibited distributing absentee ballots by fax or email and required "dorm lists" used as proof of residence to include citizenship information.

The judge also overturned a provision of the voter ID law banning the use of expired but otherwise qualifying student IDs at the polls.

Also addressed in Peterson's ruling was the state's ID petition process, or IDPP — the system qualified voters use to obtain a free ID from the state. The lawsuit argued the IDPP is ineffective and has failed minority groups in particular.

Peterson found the system does not require "wholesale invalidation," but that it does not act as an effective safety net for qualified electors who struggle to obtain proper IDs.

"The IDPP is pretty much a disaster," Peterson wrote, later referring to it as a "wretched failure."
As the gentle reader could have guessed, the Republicans are beside themselves after the ruling, blaming "liberal activist judges" that don't care about the will of the people, yada, yada, yada....

What they are really angry about is that the ruling will allow more black people, especially in Milwaukee, a chance to vote. Judge Peterson pointed that much out in his ruling:
Laws that limited in-person absentee voting to one location, limited early voting hours and eliminated weekend voting are unconstitutional, Peterson ruled.

The 2013 law limiting hours for in-person absentee voting "intentionally discriminates on the basis of race," Peterson wrote in a 119-page decision.

"I reach this conclusion because I am persuaded that this law was specifically targeted to curtail voting in Milwaukee without any other legitimate purpose. The legislature’s immediate goal was to achieve a partisan objective, but the means of achieving that objective was to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans," Peterson wrote.
Of course, the gentle reader already knew that because, earlier this year, a former GOP staffer, testified that the Republicans were "giddy" with the prospect of suppressing the black voters.

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