UPDATE: GOP Seeks Investigation of Judge Who Blocked Voter ID Law
Judge who issued injunction is up for re-election April 3 and signed recall petition. A permanent request for injunction goes to trial on April 16.
Updated at 7 p.m. Tuesday with comment from state Government Accountability Board and calls by GOP to investigate judge.
Requiring registered state voters to show a photo ID to cast their ballots on April 3 is on hold.
Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan granted an injunction Tuesday, effectively blocking the law, known as Act 23. A trial for a permanent injunction begins on April 16.
Flanagan is up for re-election April 3, unopposed, and signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker on Nov. 15, the first day signatures could be collected (petition attached in photo gallery).
Flanagan has not yet returned a call to Patch for comment, however, the state Republican Party has called for an investigation into the decision.
"The very fact that Dane County Judge David Flanagan signed a petition to recall Governor Walker calls today's court proceedings regarding Wisconsin's voter ID law into question," said party spokesman Ben Sparks in a statement. "To make matters more troubling, Judge Flanagan also lists Melissa Mulliken, a longtime advisor to Kathleen Falk, as his campaign manager on his official campaign web page. As such, the Republican Party of Wisconsin will be filing a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission to investigate this matter further."
The law went into effect last month, but four different groups have filed lawsuits including the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP, and Voces de la Frontera.
According to The Wisconsin State Journal, Flanagan ruled the lawsuits can move forward and that Walker is properly named as a defendent. More, the judge ordered Walker and the Government Accountability Board to "cease immediately any effort to enforce or implement the photo identification requirements."
And the GAB, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, said Tuesday evening it would do just that.
“We will take steps to suspend enforcement and implementation of the photo ID provisions of Act 23," said Kevin Kennedy, director of the GAB. "We will communicate with local election officials and the public about the impact of this order. No decision has been made regarding an appeal. We will consult with the attorney general’s office on this issue.”
“Other key provisions of Act 23 remain in effect: the requirement for 28 consecutive days of residency to vote, the requirement for voters to sign the poll list, and the end of corroboration for voters who do not have proof of residence," Kennedy added in a statement.
State Democrats and Republicans issued statements reacting to the news.
Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said, "Today’s action that halts the implementation of flawed legislation that makes it harder for students, seniors and minorities to exercise their right to vote is a victory for all Wisconsinites.
"Now that the judiciary has correctly recognized that this restrictive bill could cause irreparable harm to Wisconsinites and our traditions of excellent voter participation, Scott Walker and his Republican Party have the opportunity to make things right. Wisconsin law should focus on increasing voter participation, not diminishing it."
State Republicans took the opposite view.
Soon after the decision was made, Sparks said: "This is simply another example of a liberal Dane County judge legislating from the bench to block the will of an overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites.
"Election officials lauded the implementation of the new voter ID law during Wisconsin's February elections and today’s decision throws yet another curve ball at local clerks and election officials who have spent the time and money necessary to ensure that this common sense law is implemented on time.”
Meanwhile, the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters will also move forward despite counter arguements saying Melanie Ramey, League president, shouldn't be allowed to bring the suit because she isn't directly affected. In that case, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess ruled that Voter ID creates "an impediment" to voting not already in the state Constitution.