A recent round of losses for voter-ID laws may have a short shelf life. A federal district court struck down parts of Wisconsin’s statute last month, claiming that certain provisions were discriminatory. That ruling got stayed for yesterday’s primaries, but a federal appeals court issued a broader injunction today. A unanimous panel at the 7th Circuit made it clear that they will almost certainly overturn the ruling, and didn’t think much of Judge Lynn Adelman’s reasoning behind it:
The three appeals court judges assigned to the case, Frank v. Walker, issued the stay at the request of Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and were critical of Judge Adelman’s ruling on several fronts.
“We conclude both that the district court’s decision is likely to be reversed on appeal and that disruption of the state’s electoral system in the interim will cause irreparable injury,” reads the judges’ order. “The district court issued an injunction that permits any registered voter to declare by affidavit that reasonable effort would not produce a photo ID-even if the voter has never tried to secure one, and even if by objective standards the effort needed would be reasonable (and would succeed).”
It’s worth pointing out, by the way, that yesterday’s primary in WI-01 involving Paul Ryan didn’t suffer in turnout over the law. Ryan got slightly over 40,000 votes in 2014’s primary while scoring almost 95% against a challenger. Yesterday, Ryan got over 57,000 votes in an 84/16 stomping of Paul Nehlen. That’s an increase of 42.5% in turnout.
Democrat-primary votes in the district fell off by about 25%, however, in the open primary. Perhaps that’s a signal that more Democrats crossed over — or were just less interested in the Solen/Breu contest. Either way, the district had an overall increase in votes over 2014 by 21.8% — without having a presidential preference race on the ticket, which had already taken place in April.
Rick Hasen at the Election Law Blog notes that the 7th Circuit has another ruling to consider on this statute, and it’s not clear whether that will get stayed yet:
Meanwhile, there is a second case pending in which a trial court ordered different softening measures for Wisconsin’s voter id law, as well as striking other Wisconsin election laws. That case remains pending on appeal, and is not affected by today’s order. (It is not clear if the same panel will have that case.)
If the 7th Circuit overturns the ruling, the plaintiffs in Frank v Walker could request an en banc hearing, or appeal it to the Supreme Court. In its current 8-member composition, it’s likely that the best plaintiffs could muster would be a 4-4 split — and given earlier rulings on Indiana’s voter-ID statutes and stare decisis, it’s more likely to lose. An en banc hearing is probably their best bet, but Hasen doesn’t think it would work out well for them — and either way, it probably won’t keep the voter-ID law from applying in the upcoming general election.
Meanwhile, in an answer to those who keep insisting that voter fraud is a myth, enjoy this update from Dothan, Alabama. It doesn’t directly relate to showing identification at polling places, but the idea that malefactors aren’t looking for ways to game the system is a little silly: