Judge Blocks Lame Duck Voting Restrictions
“This is not a close question,” says federal judge, invalidating GOP law limiting early voting.
A federal judge has struck down restrictions on early voting passed during last month’s lame-duck session of the state Legislature.
The restrictions limited early voting in Wisconsin to the two weeks before an election. In recent years, cities including Milwaukee and Madison have offered several weeks of early voting.
Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now argued the new restrictions violated a 2016 federal ruling on election laws in the state. They appealed to the judge in that case, Judge James Peterson of the Western District of Wisconsin, to block the new law.
Peterson issued a favorable ruling for the group on Thursday afternoon.
The judge also struck down a law passed during the lame-duck session that requires a two-year expiration date on student IDs used for identification at the polls, as well as a law that limits the use of receipts as valid identification for individuals who are involved in a sometimes lengthy process of getting a valid state ID without a birth certificate.
Analiese Eicher, program director at One Wisconsin Now, lauded Peterson’s decision as a victory for Wisconsin voters.
“We saw voters respond incredibly when voting was expanded in Wisconsin — voters stepped up, they saw the ability to vote and they voted,” she said.
Eicher said the ruling will allow communities to continue to provide “the kinds of voting experiences that they need.”
Early voting in Wisconsin has increased steadily since 2016. More than 547,000 absentee ballots were cast in the state for the 2018 election, which set a new record for early voting turnout for a midterm election, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Republican supporters of the early voting limitation argued it was unfair that some parts of the state offered several weeks of early voting while others, particularly rural areas, couldn’t afford to do so.
They also said the new law was not in violation of Peterson’s 2016 ruling, which said restricting early voting to 10 days before an election was unlawful.
Peterson rejected that argument.
“Although (the new law) expands the early voting window slightly, it is still a ‘state-imposed limit on the time for in-person absentee voting,’ so it violates the injunction,” he wrote.
Members of the Republican leadership in the Legislature didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.
Former Gov. Scott Walker signed the early voting restriction into law in mid-December, about three weeks before he left office.
Walker’s Democratic successor, Gov. Tony Evers, meanwhile, praised Peterson’s ruling.
“We have to make sure folks have the opportunity to participate in our democracy. That’s why I believe we should be making it easier for Wisconsinites to vote, not harder,” Evers said. “I’m glad to see that a federal court has again struck down Republicans’ unconstitutional attacks on our right to vote.”
The lame-duck session garnered national attention, including from a group headed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, which joined in the suit against the early voting changes.
“Today’s court ruling is a victory for the citizens of Wisconsin and a rebuke to their defeated former governor and his cronies in the state Legislature,” Holder said Thursday. “Every voter in the state should be asking one question: why are Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature so afraid of the people they claim they want to represent?”
Though the law can’t be enforced now, the case is pending appeal before a federal appellate court.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Federal Judge Blocks Lame-Duck Session’s Restrictions On Early Voting was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
More about the Lame Duck Laws
- State Supreme Court Upholds Lame-Duck Laws - Laurel White - Jun 21st, 2019
- Gov. Evers Releases Statement Relating to Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision - Gov. Tony Evers - Jun 21st, 2019
- Wisconsin Budget: Lame Duck Mistake Reopens Tax Debate - Jon Peacock - Jun 12th, 2019
- High Court Reinstates Lame Duck Laws - Shawn Johnson - Jun 12th, 2019
- The State of Politics: An Uphill Fight for ‘Lame Duck’ Challengers? - Steven Walters - May 20th, 2019
- Conservatives Argue Against Lame-Duck Lawsuit - Shawn Johnson - May 16th, 2019
- Op Ed: Constitutional Boundaries Need Enforcement - Erin Grunze - May 10th, 2019
- Supreme Court Restores Lame Duck Appointees - Shawn Johnson - May 1st, 2019
- Former Lawmakers, WILL Enter Extraordinary Session Lawsuit - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Apr 23rd, 2019
- Appeals Court Sides with Evers on Appointees - Shawn Johnson - Apr 10th, 2019
- GOP Asks Court to Restore Walker Appointees - Laurel White - Apr 2nd, 2019
- Evers, GOP Fight Over Walker Appointees - Laurel White - Mar 30th, 2019
- Appeals Court Restores Some Lame Duck Laws - Laurel White - Mar 28th, 2019
- Joint Statement: Appellate Court Decision on the Extraordinary Session - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Mar 27th, 2019
- Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Sends Letter to Appointees Impacted By Governor Evers’ Actions - Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - Mar 27th, 2019
- Second Judge Rules Against Lame Duck Laws - Laurel White - Mar 27th, 2019
- Arguments Begin on 2nd Lame Duck Suit - Laurel White - Mar 25th, 2019
- Dane County Court’s New Level of Judicial Activism Throws Wisconsin Into Chaos - MacIver Institute - Mar 25th, 2019
- Representative LaKeshia Myers Issues a Statement Regarding the Lame Duck Court Ruling - State Rep. LaKeshia Myers - Mar 21st, 2019
- Judge Blocks Lame Duck Laws - Shawn Johnson - Mar 21st, 2019
- Gov. Evers Releases Statement on Dane County Court’s Ruling on Lame-Duck Session - Gov. Tony Evers - Mar 21st, 2019
- Evers Joins Unions on Lame Duck Suit - Shawn Johnson - Feb 25th, 2019
- Fourth Lawsuit Against Lame Duck Laws - Shawn Johnson - Feb 22nd, 2019
- DPW Files Federal Lawsuit Over Republicans’ Lame-Duck Power Grab - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Feb 21st, 2019
- Rep. Spreitzer, Sen. Ringhand Propose Lame Duck Limits - State Rep. Mark Spreitzer - Feb 11th, 2019
- Judge Blocks Lame Duck Voting Restrictions - Laurel White - Jan 18th, 2019
- Rep. Jimmy Anderson Seeks to Void the Wisconsin Power Grab - State Rep. Jimmy Anderson - Jan 10th, 2019
- Op Ed: Lame Duck Mischief Defamed the State - Spencer Black - Jan 2nd, 2019
- Campaign Cash: Lame Duck Law Helped Ashley Furniture - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: Liberals All Wrong on Early Voting Law - Rick Esenberg - Dec 20th, 2018
- Op Ed: We the Irrelevant People - Sheila Plotkin - Dec 19th, 2018
- History Repeats With Latest Post-Election Republican Attack on Early Voting - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 19th, 2018
- Kaul Calls Lame Duck Laws ‘Terrible’ - Mary Kate McCoy - Dec 19th, 2018
- Court Challenge to Voting Restrictions Filed - Laurel White - Dec 18th, 2018
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- One Wisconsin Institute Files Request for Court to Enforce Rulings Striking Down Republican Lame Duck Restrictions on Voting - One Wisconsin Institute - Dec 17th, 2018
- Motion to Block Early Voting Restrictions to be Filed Today - Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Dec 17th, 2018
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- Op Ed: Lame Duck Bills Too Rushed, Secretive - Erin Grunze - Dec 16th, 2018
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- Governor Walker Signs Extraordinary Session Legislation into Law in Green Bay - Gov. Scott Walker - Dec 14th, 2018
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- Walker Defends Lame Duck Bills - Laurel White - Dec 12th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: Republicans’ Plan for Permanent Power - Bruce Murphy - Dec 11th, 2018
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