Today, the Dane County Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of Wisconsin’s voter ID law until the scheduled trial on April 16 (Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP et al., v. Scott Walker). This decision is based on Wisconsin’s state constitution, not federal law.
In its findings, the trial court distinguished the case from the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Marion County, which upheld Indiana’s strict “no-photo, no-vote” ID law in 2008. The Dane County court made three important distinctions from that case. First, Wisconsin’s constitution expressly guarantees a right to vote. Second, Wisconsin’s law is far more strict than Indiana’s law challenged in the Crawford case. And third, the Crawford decision was based on a flawed factual record, not present in the current Wisconsin case.
Perhaps most importantly, the trial court found that this case should be subject to strict scrutiny, meaning the government must justify why the law is needed, not simply state a general rationale for its existence. Trial is set for April 16th, and we may see an appeal of this decision, but for now, this is very good news — particularly for the residents of Milwaukee who have a mayoral election on April 3rd.