Wisconsin's Supreme Court Upholds Voter IDs As Eric Holder Ramps Up Pressure

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Wisconsin's Supreme Court ruled in favor of a 2011 law that requires voters to present photo IDs at the polls. The law is still on hold, however, due to an April ruling from a federal court. A final decision will be made by an appeals court, and the Justice Department filed court papers this week urging the appeals court to strike down the law, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Wisconsin law, and similarly restrictive efforts in Ohio, "represent the latest, misguided attempts to fix a system that isn't broken," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

The 2011 law was approved by the state's Republican legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, after several attempts to block the voter ID rule by Democrats. Republicans argue that the voter ID law raises trust in the validity of the vote and prevents fraud. Democrats argue that voter fraud isn't as wide spread as the GOP claims and voter ID laws actually disproportionately affect low income and minority workers. 

On Thursday the state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to uphold the law, but that ruling doesn't change anything. It's up to the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to either rule for or against the law, according to Politico. The Justice Department filed an amicus brief Wednesday arguing that the law would have a "racially discriminatory effect."

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This is part of a larger push by the department to stem a wave of restrictive voter laws passed in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision last year to strike down section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required areas with a history of discrimination to seek approval for new voting laws. The department has already filed suits against states like Texas and North Carolina, but it is now looking beyond the south. 

One of those cases is in Ohio, where the Justice Department filed papers against efforts to end same day voter registration and cut back on early voting days. Though Secretary of State John Husted's spokesman argued that the state has a higher average number of early voting days, the state has come under fire during Husted's time for discriminatory voting rules — to the point that Democratic officials and activists attempted to get a Voter Bill of Rights on the November ballot. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.