The appeals court overturns Wisconsin voting restrictions

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MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – A federal appeals court in Wisconsin upheld a large number of voting restrictions written by Republicans, giving conservatives a significant win in a few lawsuits just months before residents of the battlefield voted for president.

The panel of three judges – all Republican appointees – believed that the state could limit early voting and reinstated the requirement that people live in a district for 28 days, not 10, before they can vote. The panel also said that ballot papers by email and fax are unconstitutional.

The state’s photo ID requirement for voters was not up for debate, although the panel did find that expired student IDs are acceptable in the polls and kept an option that allowed people without an ID to vote if they told an affidavit that they tried to obtain one.

Judge Frank Easterbrook, who wrote the opinion, noted that the restrictions do not tax people in the state, where voters still have more ways to register, long polling day polls, and absent voting options than in other states.

“Wisconsin has many rules that make voting easier,” wrote Easterbrook. “These facts are important in assessing challenges to a handful of rules that make voting more difficult.”

State Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican running for Congress this fall, called the decision a win for fair elections.

“The ruling brings municipalities in every corner of Wisconsin closer to an equal footing when it comes to early personal voting,” Fitzgerald said. “I applaud the 7th Circuit for its decision and look forward to continuing this fall elections.”

Democrats protested the decision, calling it an “attack on our democracy.”

“As (President Donald) Trump and his team get more and more nervous in November, a Republican-controlled court just launched another blatant attack on voting rights in Wisconsin,” said Democratic Party chairman Ben Wikler. “Trump knows that his way to victory is being suppressed as much as possible, and as we saw on April 7 when the Republicans forced thousands of people to vote personally during a pandemic, there is no low point they don’t want to bow to. to seize power. “

Republicans enacted many voting restrictions when they took full control of the Wisconsin state government in 2011. They instructed voters to show a photo ID at the polls, shorten the early voting window from 30 days for an election to 12, and eliminate early voting on weekends, limited early voting limited to one location per municipality, among other changes and extended the residency requirement for votes from 10 days to 28.

GOP lawmakers said the changes were designed to create uniform rules across the state and fight voter fraud, although no one has shown widespread fraud in the state.

Liberal group One Wisconsin Institute contested the restrictions in federal court in Madison. U.S. district judge James Peterson found most restrictions unconstitutional in July 2016, although he did allow the voter ID requirement to remain because the provision had passed previous legal issues.

That same month, another federal judge, Lynn Adelman of Milwaukee, ruled in a separate lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that residents of the state who did not have the correct photo identification could vote with an affidavit stating their identity confirmed.

The decisions were a major victory for Democrats, who have long claimed that Republicans use the photo ID law and other voting restrictions to discriminate against the poor, racial minorities and younger voters who vote for Democrats earlier. Municipal officials in Madison and Milwaukee, the state’s two most democratic cities, used the statements of Peterson and Adelman to extend the early voting times and locations in the 2018 election, and the Democrats went to every state-wide office.

The panel of the 7th circuit heard the Republicans’ call in February 2017, more than three years ago. Since then, there has been a wave of new lawsuits leading to extended registration and voting terms for the April 7 presidential elections in Wisconsin and the Supreme Court presidential election. Those cases are still pending and rulings could affect the rules for the November 3 presidential election.

Trump narrowly transferred Wisconsin in 2016, and the state is expected to play a key role in his reelection bid again this fall.

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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