Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan wrote Tuesday that the state's requirement that all voters show photo ID at the polls creates a "substantial impairment of the right to vote" guaranteed by the state constitution.A University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist, Kenneth Mayer, estimated more than 301,000 Wisconsin residents, 9.3 percent of registered voters there, do not have ID that would allow them to vote. Flanagan found that for those people, mostly low-income, the "cost and the difficulty of obtaining documents necessary to apply for a (Division of Motor Vehicles) photo ID is a substantial burden."
In March, Flanagan issued an injunction temporarily blocking the law because the plaintiffs - the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera - were likely to succeed in their arguments. Flanagan made that injunction permanent in the 20-page decision he issued Tuesday.
The immediate effect of his ruling is limited because another Dane County judge, Richard Niess, permanently blocked the voter ID law in March in a case brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. Having a second ruling against the law makes it all the more difficult for voter ID proponents to get the law reinstated because they would need to get both orders lifted.
The state's Supreme Court has declined to take on both cases earlier, when the state tried to get them to act before these lower court rulings came down. The court will likely take the cases on eventually, but not in time for this election. That's one battle won on the voter ID front.