The Wisconsin ruling was the latest victory for opponents of voter
ID laws that generally require residents to present a
government-issued photo identification before casting ballots.
The laws have become a political and racial flashpoint across the
United States, with Democrats generally opposed and many Republicans
A judge in Arkansas last week declared that state's new voter
identification law unconstitutional and a Pennsylvania judge in
January struck down that state's voter ID law.
Minorities in Wisconsin are disproportionately more likely to live
in poverty and those who live in poverty are less likely to drive or
participate in other activities such as banking and traveling, in
which a photo ID is required, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman
"Thus, we find that blacks and Latinos are less likely than whites
to obtain a photo ID in the ordinary course of their lives and are
more likely to be without one," Adelman wrote.
Penda Hair, a director at the Advancement Project organization that
helped bring the federal lawsuits, said the judge's ruling would
help ensure an equal opportunity to vote for all Wisconsin
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he was disappointed
by the ruling and planned to appeal.
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Republican Governor Scott Walker's spokeswoman, Laurel Patrick, said
the governor believed the law would ultimately be upheld on appeal.
Walker is running for re-election this year.
Wisconsin's state Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this
year regarding the constitutionality of the law. The law has not
been enforced since a state judge in 2012 ruled it was
"This decision further enjoined enforcement of it but as to what it
means in the future, I don't know," said Reid Magney, spokesman for
the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.
Nearly three dozen U.S. states have voter identification measures,
according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Gunna
Dickson and Cynthia Osterman)
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