Voter Suppression

No Money, No Vote: Ohio Republicans’ Diabolical Plan For A Poll Tax

Poll Tax – Credit: Library of Congress

THINK PROGRESS

Twenty-four members of the Ohio House of Representatives — all Republicans — cosponsored a bill introduced last week that would require many Ohio residents to pay an actual poll tax in order to vote. Poll taxes are forbidden by the Constitution.

Under this legislation, many voters would have to pay a fee in order to obtain an ID card that they need to vote, thus effectively imposing a tax on the right to vote.

The poll tax is tucked into a voter ID bill, another common form of legislation that prevents many Americans from casting a ballot. Though voter ID’s proponents claim they are necessary to combat voter fraud at the polls, such fraud is virtually nonexistent. A report released by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted’s office found that 0.002397 percent of votes cast in the 2012 election were the product of fraud. A similar report by Iowa’s Republican former Secretary of State Matt Schultz uncovered exactly zero cases of fraud that would have been prevented by a voter ID law.

Voter ID laws do, however, disproportionately target young voters, low-income voters and people of color — all of whom tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans. In 2012, former New York Times numbers guru Nate Silver predicted that a voter ID law could “reduce President Obama’s margin against Mitt Romney by a net of 1.2 percentage points.”

Though the bill permits voters who lack ID to obtain a special voter ID card issued by the state, this card costs $8.50. One provision of the bill does permit voters to be exempted from this fee if their income “does not exceed one hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines,” but that’s an annual income of only $11,770 a year for a single person in 2015.

The Constitution does not permit anyone to be charged any fee as a condition on their right to vote. As the Supreme Court explained in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, “a State violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment whenever it makes the affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard.” So if megabillionaire Bill Gates were charged a single penny before he could vote, that would still be an unconstitutional poll tax.

Indeed, the plurality opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the Court’s 2008 opinion permitting Indiana’s voter ID law, strongly suggests that a voter ID law coupled with a mandatory fee is unconstitutional. “The fact that most voters already possess a valid driver’s license, or some other form of acceptable identification, would not save the statute under our reasoning in Harper,” the plurality explained, “if the State required voters to pay a tax or a fee to obtain a new photo identification.”

IAN MILLHISER

Ohio · Voter Suppression

Ohio Republicans Sneak A Vote Suppression Rider Into State’s Transportation Budget

Thanks Ted for dropping this and other great news items in my inbox.  I’m using the following item because my reaction to that article was, “OMG!”

PoliticusUSA

Jon Husted Ohio

Every time a Republican sneaks an unrelated rider into a law, it’s a guarantee that someone will get screwed. Art Pope’s Republicans in North Carolina included last minute anti-choice provisions in a motorcycle safety bill.  Often, but not always, these riders come in at the last possible moment.  It’s the political version of the frowned upon court room tactic of unfair surprise.  Unfair because opponents don’t have a chance to research the provision and the public doesn’t have a chance to comment at all.

This was one of those riders. This time, the targets are college students who Republicans clearly want to disenfranchise because they tend to vote Democrat.

This time, Republicans in Ohio snuck a vote suppression rider into a transportation budget bill in an effort to disenfranchise out of state students.

Plunderbund explains,

The new language in the bill will have these students convert to an Ohio driver’s license, register their cars with Ohio plates and assume a few other costs that would raise their out-of-pocket expenses to an estimated $100.

This amounts to pricing young, mostly Democratic voters, out of the franchise. According to Cleveland, 116,000 college students will have to pay what amounts to a poll tax.

Of course, the rider’s sponsor claims there is nothing to see here. It’s all about regulating vehicle registration laws.  The fact that this will also make it harder to vote for college students (who tend to vote Democrat) is just the cherry on top.

SCOTUS · Voter Suppression

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge To Wisconsin Voter ID Law

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AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

TPM LiveWire

The justices’ action means the state is free to impose the voter ID requirement in future elections, and is further evidence that the court put the law on hold last year only because the election was close at hand and absentee ballots already had been mailed with no notification of the need to present photo IDs.

The court did not comment on its order.

Wisconsin was one of four states in which a dispute over voting rules reached the Supreme Court last fall. The other states were North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Of the four states, only Wisconsin’s new rules were blocked.

Wisconsin’s photo ID law has been a political flashpoint since Republican legislators passed it in 2011. The GOP argues the mandate is a common sense step toward reducing election fraud. Democrats maintain no widespread fraud exists and that the law is really an attempt to keep Democratic constituents who may lack ID, such as the poor, minorities and the elderly, from voting.

The law was in effect for the February 2012 primary but subsequent legal challenges put it on hold and it hasn’t been in place for any election since.

The ACLU and allied groups persuaded a federal judge in Milwaukee to declare the law unconstitutional last year. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution.

The Supreme Court refused to disturb that ruling on Monday.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

African-Americans · Rand Paul · Voter Suppression

Rand Paul Proposes Unusual Strategy On Voter ID To Help Republicans Court Black People

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOSE LUIS MAGANA

Think Progress

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Sunday that he supported voter ID laws — but didn’t think Republicans should make the issue part of their campaign platform because it alienates black voters.

“I’m not really opposed to [voter ID laws]. I am opposed to it as a campaign theme,” Paul told CBS’ Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. “Republicans, if you want to get African American votes, they think that this is suppression somehow and it’s a terrible thing.”

But contrary to Paul’s analysis, African-Americans are right to think voter ID laws mainly affect their communities. Laws mandating voters to show government identification disproportionately affect people of color and the poor, while reducing voter turnout. Those laws also carry racial tensions and reinforce stereotypes: A recent study showed that white Americans were more likely to support voter ID laws if they were shown pictures of African-Americans voting.

Republican-run states in particular have been lobbying for voting restrictions like reduced early voting times and voter ID laws, citing that such measures reduce voter fraud. But studies have shown that voter fraud is a non-issue: Voter fraud occurs at aninfinitesimal rate, with only 13 credible in-person cases logged between 2000 and 2010.

Paul went on to say that restoring voting rights for ex-convicts should be given more attention than ID laws. “I want more people to vote, not less,” he explained. “The number one impediment to voting in our country right now, it’s having a previous conviction. That’s where the real voting problem is.”

But voter ID laws actually cause fewer people to vote. The Government Accountability Office reported that such laws suppress voter turnout. Kansas and Tennessee, which have tightened their voter ID laws, had a decreased voter turnout especially among black voters, according to the GAO report.

Paul expressed having “mixed feelings” about the matter, but emphasized that Republicans harping on voter ID laws on the campaign trail pushes needed votes away instead of steering them toward the polls. “The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans,” Paul said during a campaign stop in Detroit last week.

On Sunday, he reaffirmed that stance, saying “Republicans have to get beyond this perception that they don’t want African-Americans to vote. I don’t think it’s true. I’m not saying it’s true. But by being for all of these things, it reinforces a stereotype that we need to break down.”

Voter Suppression

Chinese, GOP Agree Non-Rich Shouldn’t Vote

2014-10-26-votingphoto.jpg

The Huffington Post

Speaking just like an American Republican, the Communist Chinese-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said last week that if the state granted democratic rights to its poor and working class, they could dominate elections and choose leaders who would meet their needs.

If Hong Kong’s 99 percenters picked their leaders, Mr. Leung said, “Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”  To ensure politics and policies favoring Hong Kong’s one percent, Mr. Leung insists that a committee appointed in Beijing approve all candidates to succeed him.

Mr. Leung fears rule by the majority – just as U.S. Republicans do. It’s the reason the GOP has launched a massive voter suppression campaign across the country. Republicans believe in rule by and for the one percent. To accomplish that, they must do what Mr. Leung and the Chinese Communist party did: foil democracy. That’s the GOP goal when it subverts America’s precious one person-one vote equality. Every American who holds democracy dear must do whatever it takes to defy GOP attempts to deny them access to the ballot next week.

Protesters demanding democracy in Hong Kong have thronged streets and faced down baton-wielding police for three weeks. Mr. Leung’s anti-democracy remarks further inflamed the demonstrators who live in a state with among the highest income inequality in the world. Mr. Leung said he could not allow the state’s majority – workers and the poor – to choose nominees because then those candidates would address the demands of the majority.

“If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation,” Mr. Leung said, “then obviously you (candidates) would be talking to half of the people of Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.”

That is exactly who Republicans don’t want to talk to – America’s middle class and working poor. The GOP presidential candidate, quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney, said that it was his “job not to worry about those people” who are elderly or too poor to pay federal income taxes. To make sure Republicans can focus on the rich and forget the rest, they’ve passed a multitude of laws to stop the working poor, seniors, people of color, women and students from voting. The intent is to prevent them from choosing who will run the government that, in a democracy, is supposed to represent them.

The Brennan Center for Justice calculated that if all the suppression laws passed by nearly two dozen states in the past five years took effect, 5 million citizens would confront new obstacles to exercising their right to vote. The laws would likely deny suffrage altogether to some citizens, such as those lacking birth certificates because they were born at home.

In addition to demanding specific ID, some states restricted early voting, ended same-day registration, purged voter rolls, and failed to process tens of thousands of registration forms collected by groups encouraging low-income and minority citizensto vote. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the NAACP and other voting rights groups challenged these schemes in court.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by Republicans, issued preliminary rulings approving voter suppression in three states for the Nov. 4 balloting.

In a fourth, Wisconsin, the court temporarily barred the voter ID mandate. The Supremes will hear the case later and may allow the state to demand specific identification. That would be ID requirements that Federal Judge Lynn Adelman determined could disenfranchise 300,000 Wisconsin voters, particularly poor and minority citizens, because they lack the requisite documents.

Judge Adelman, who ruled the law unconstitutional, concluded that in Wisconsin, there were no cases of the in-person voter fraud that Republicans claim the law is intended to prevent.

Texas was among the three states that Republicans on the Supreme Court granted permission to begin demanding specific voter identification. The court ignored the fact that Texas passed the law within hours after the Republican Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act.

The court ignored the fact that the trial judge in that case, Nelva Gonzales Ramos, calculated that it could disenfranchise 600,000 voters, particularly black and Hispanic Texans. These are citizens who don’t have a gun permit or driver’s license allowed as voter identification by the law, but who do possess other ID, such as student cards, forbidden by the law.

The court ignored the fact that Judge Ramos found only two cases of in-person voter fraud out of 20 million ballots cast in Texas over 10 years.

Consider what red, white and blue-wearing, flag-waving, democracy-praising Republicans have said about their voter suppression campaigns.

Georgia state Rep. Fran Millar complained about a decision to allow Sunday voting in a location near a mall that, as he described it, “is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist.”

When accused of racism, he said, “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”

In other words, he only wants some people to vote, not all people.

That’s not democracy.

In Ohio, where Republicans tried to allow GOP-dominated counties to add hours for early voting but deny it in Democratic areas, Doug Priesse, the chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, where Columbus is located, said it was fine to make voting more difficult for black citizens:

“I guess I really feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine.”

That’s not democracy.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai shepherded voter ID through the legislature in 2012, then announced  to a GOP gathering: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.” In other words, the law would stop voting by the working poor, minorities, student and others who tend to vote for Democrats.

That’s not democracy.

The ACLU got an injunction to stop the Pennsylvania ID law. President Obama won the state. And the state Supreme Court later ruled the law unconstitutional.

The rich are represented in government, and as a result, highly profitable oil companies get tax breaks. Wall Street gets bailouts. And one percenters get tax deductions for yachts. By contrast, no one bailed out underwater homeowners.Twenty-four states refused to expand Medicaid to millions of working poor citizens. And the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in five years.

In a democracy, there’s nothing more important to securing representation in government than the vote.  Don’t let Republicans take it from you.

***

Voter Suppression

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pens Scathing Dissent On Texas Voter ID Law

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the West conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. | The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent early Saturday morning, blasting the court’s decision to allow Texas to use its new voter ID law in the November elections. She was joined in the dissent by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” Ginsburg wrote.

Ginsburg disputed the Fifth Circuit court of appeals’ argument that it was too close to the November election to stop the law. Early voting begins on Monday in Texas.

“In any event, there is little risk that the District Court’s injunction will in fact disrupt Texas’ electoral process,” she wrote. “Texas need only reinstate the voter identification procedures it employed for ten years (from 2003 to 2013) and in five federal general elections.”

Ginsburg argued that the Fifth Circuit was remiss to ignore the findings of a full trial in district court, which found that the law was “enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and would yield a prohibited disriminatory result.”

District Court Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos struck down the law earlier this month on the grounds that it would serve as a deterrent to a large number of registered voters, most of them black or Hispanic. “Based on the testimony and numerous statistical analyses provided at trial, this Court finds that approximately 608,470 registered voters in Texas, representing approximately 4.5% of all registered voters, lack qualified SB 14 ID and of these, 534,512 voters do not qualify for a disability exemption,” Gonzalez Ramos wrote.

Ginsburg echoed these findings in her dissent. “The potential magnitude of racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement counseled hesitation before disturbing the District Court’s findings and final judgment,” Ginsburg wrote. “Senate Bill 14 may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.”

Texas officials have argued that these numbers are meaningless, on the grounds that all registered voters are able to obtain ID. Ginsburg also took aim at this assertion in her dissent, arguing that the cost of obtaining the required ID constitutes an unconstitutional barrier to voting. “Even at $2, the toll is at odds with this Court’s precedent,” she wrote. “And for some voters, the imposition is not small. A voter whose birth certificate lists her maiden name or misstates her date of birth may be charged $37 for the amended certificate she needs to obtain a qualifying ID. Texas voters born in other States may be required to pay substantially more than that.”

Ginsburg pointedly added that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

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Voter Identification · Voter Suppression

GOP voter ID law gets crushed: Why Judge Richard Posner’s new opinion is so amazing

GOP voter ID law gets crushed: Why Judge Richard Posner's new opinion is so amazing
Richard Posner (Credit: Reuters/John Gress)

For some of us these are indeed the best of times and the worst of times…

Salon

Conservative icon/federal judge changes mind on photo ID laws, issues blistering dissent against them. Read it here…

This post originally appeared on The BRAD BLOG.

If you read just one top-to-bottom dismantling of every supposed premise in support of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions laws in your lifetime, let it be this one [PDF].

It is a dissent, released on Friday, written by Judge Richard Posner, the Reagan-appointed 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was the one who approved the first such Photo ID law in the country (Indiana’s) back in 2008, in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County case which went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Posner’s ruling was affirmed.

If there was ever evidence that a jurist could change their mind upon review of additional subsequent evidence, this is it. If there was ever a concise and airtight case made against Photo ID laws and the threat they pose to our most basic right to vote, this is it. If there was ever a treatise revealing such laws for the blatantly partisan shell games that they are, this is it.

His dissent includes a devastating response to virtually every false and/or disingenuous rightwing argument/talking point ever put forth in support of Photo ID voting restrictions, describing them as “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”

Posner is, by far, the most widely cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according to The Journal of Legal Studies. His opinions are closely read by the Supreme Court, where the battle over the legality and Constitutionality of Photo ID voting laws will almost certainly wind up at some point in the not too distant future. That’s just one of the reasons why this opinion is so important.

This opinion, written on behalf of five judges on the 7th Circuit, thoroughly disabuses such notions such as: these laws are meant to deal with a phantom voter fraud concern (“Out of 146 million registered voters, this is a ratio of one case of voter fraud for every 14.6 million eligible voters”); that evidence shows them to be little more than baldly partisan attempts to keep Democratic voters from voting (“conservative states try to make it difficult for people who are outside the mainstream…to vote”); that rightwing partisan outfits like True the Vote, which support such laws, present “evidence” of impersonation fraud that is “downright goofy, if not paranoid”; and the notion that even though there is virtually zero fraud that could even possibly be deterred by Photo ID restrictions, the fact that the public thinks there is, is a lousy reason to disenfranchise voters since there is no evidence that such laws actually increase public confidence in elections and, as new studies now reveal, such laws have indeed served to suppress turnout in states where they have been enacted.

There is far too much in it to appropriately encapsulate here for now. You just really need to take some time to read it in full. But it was written, largely, in response to the Appellate Court ruling last week by rightwing Judge Frank Easterbrook which contained one embarrassing falsehood and error after another, including the canards about Photo ID being required to board airplanes, open bank accounts, buy beer and guns, etc. We took apart just that one paragraph of Easterbrook’s ruling last week here, but Posner takes apart his colleague’s entire, error-riddled mess of a ruling in this response.

Amongst my favorite passages (and there are so many), this one [emphasis added]…

The panel is not troubled by the absence of evidence. It deems the supposed beneficial effect of photo ID requirements on public confidence in the electoral system “‘a legislative fact’-a proposition about the state of the world,” and asserts that “on matters of legislative fact, courts accept the findings of legislatures and judges of the lower courts must accept findings by the Supreme Court.” In so saying, the panel conjures up a fact-free cocoon in which to lodge the federal judiciary. As there is no evidence that voter impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials? If the Supreme Court once thought that requiring photo identification increases public confidence in elections, and experience and academic study since shows that the Court was mistaken, do we do a favor to the Court-do we increase public confidence in elections-by making the mistake a premise of our decision? Pressed to its logical extreme the panel’s interpretation of and deference to legislative facts would require upholding a photo ID voter law even if it were uncontested that the law eliminated no fraud but did depress turnout significantly.

And this one…

There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.

And remember, once again, this is written by Richard Posner, the conservative Republican icon of a federal appellate court judge — the judge who wrote the opinion on behalf of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals approving of the first such Photo ID law in the country in 2008, the very case that rightwingers from Texas to Wisconsin now cite over and over (almost always incorrectly) in support of similar such laws — now, clearly admitting that he got the entire thing wrong.

One last point (for now): Our legal analyst Ernie Canning, who (along with me) will undoubtedly have much more to say on this dissent in upcoming days, suggests we award The BRAD BLOG’s almost-never-anymore-bestowed Intellectually Honest Conservative Award to Judge Posner. And so it shall be.

Now go read Posner’s dissent.

Voter Suppression · Voting

Appeals Court Upholds Order Restoring Early Voting In Ohio

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich | AP Photo / Tony Dejak

Score one for Democracy…

TPM LiveWire

The law, enacted earlier this year, scaled back early voting in the Buckeye State from 35 days to 28 days and scrapped “Golden Week,” when residents could both register and vote in the same week.

From here the state of Ohio can either seek a full court — en banc — ruling at the 6th Circuit or appeal to the Supreme Court.

“With the press of time, it is not clear that Ohio is going to bother to try to change this for this election,” wrote election law professor Rick Hasen of UC-Irvine. “But if and when this case gets to the Supreme Court, I expect 5 Justices could well adopt a much narrower definition of equal protection and the Voting Rights Act than offered here.”

Voter Suppression

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Rejected By Federal Judge

WISCONSIN STATE CAPITOL| Visions of America/Joe Sohm via Getty Images

Undoubtedly the State of Wisconsin will take this all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States where the majority of Justices are more amenable to knocking down civil rights gains of the past…

The Huffington Post

A  federal judge in Milwaukee struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law Tuesday, declaring that a requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls imposes an unfair burden on poor and minority voters.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman sided with opponents of the law, who argued that low-income and minority voters aren’t as likely to have photo IDs or the documents needed to get them. Adelman said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. He also said the law appeared too flawed to be fixed by legislative amendments.

Adelman’s decision invalidates Wisconsin’s law and means voter ID likely won’t be in place for the fall elections, when Republican Gov. Scott Walker faces re-election. While Walker last month committed to calling a special legislative session if the law were struck down in court, his spokeswoman wouldn’t commit to that Tuesday.

“We believe the voter ID law is constitutional and will ultimately be upheld,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email. “We’re reviewing the decision for any potential action.”

The ruling could set a precedent for similar legal challenges in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. There are 31 states with laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to the one a state judge struck down in Arkansas last week; that decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Pennsylvania’s voter ID law has been put on hold because of court challenges.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama waded into the voter ID debate, accusing Republicans of using restrictions to keep voters from the polls and jeopardizing 50 years of expanded voting access for millions of black Americans and other minorities.

A Dane County judge had already blocked Wisconsin’s law in state court. The state Supreme Court heard arguments in two separate lawsuits in February, although it’s not clear when the justices will issue a ruling. For voter ID to be reinstated, the state’s high court would have to rule that it doesn’t violate the state constitution, and Adelman’s decision would have to be overturned on appeal.

Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, which defended the state law in court, pledged to continue the fight.

“I am disappointed with the order and continue to believe Wisconsin’s law is constitutional,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement. “We will appeal.”

Republican backers had argued that requiring voters to show ID would cut down on voter fraud and boost public confidence in the integrity of the election process. But Adelman said the state failed to prove that voter fraud is a legitimate problem.

“(V)irtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future,” he wrote in a 90-page opinion.

Wisconsin’s Republican-led Legislature passed the photo ID requirement in 2011, scoring a long-sought GOP priority. Former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, had vetoed a similar requirement three times between 2002 and 2005.

Wisconsin’s law was only in effect for a 2012 primary before a Dane County judge declared it unconstitutional.

Adelman pledged to expedite any proceedings should Wisconsin’s Legislature attempt to amend the law, but he also had strong cautionary words for lawmakers.

“Given the evidence presented at trial showing that Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to lack an ID, it is difficult to see how an amendment to the photo ID requirement could remove its disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result,” Adelman wrote.

Wisconsin residents can get a free state ID from a Department of Motor Vehicles by presenting documents such as a certified birth certificate, passport or Social Security card. Each document must be unexpired, and the person’s name must be spelled identically on each document.

A number of witnesses testified the regulation was a problem, either because their names were misspelled on a key document or because they were born in rural areas during an era when birth certificates weren’t always issued.

Adelman cited their testimony in his ruling, noting that they faced challenges that could deter them from voting.

“Although not every voter will face all of these obstacles, many voters will face some of them, particularly those who are low-income,” the judge wrote.

The federal challenge combined two separate cases. One was brought by minority-rights groups, including the Wisconsin chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the other involved the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project.

ACLU spokesman Dale Ho said his group was “ecstatic” over the victory, and felt Adelman rendered a fair assessment of the evidence.

“We’re pleased. We feel vindicated by the judge’s decision,” he said.