MADISON -- Wisconsin's elections chief says a state Supreme Court ruling on voter ID before Nov. 6 wouldn't provide enough time to get ready for the change at the polls.
Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy says if the court were to reinstate the voter ID law, people might not have adequate time to obtain the proper identification. The law has been blocked by challenges in two cases.
In addition, Kennedy says his agency would have to scramble to train clerks and poll workers on what IDs could be used to vote. Kennedy says the board has no position on whether the state should require IDs for voting, but he doesn't want any major changes for the November election for administrative reasons.
"It will create chaos and turmoil at the polls and ultimately disenfranchise voters. It will create great hardship on a lot of voters and it will create great difficulties for election officials that are trying to implement the election laws," Richard Saks, an attorney in a Voter ID lawsuit said.
Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday the GAB's ruling is disappointing, but not a setback.
"In this society, it's almost impossible to be able to get by anywhere without some form of photo identification. They're just looking at the mechanics. They don't want anything to change right now. Long term, it will be fine," Gov. Walker said.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, August 21st to bypass lower courts and consider his appeal to decisions blocking the state's voter identification law.
Van Hollen said the move is being done to ensure the law requiring voters show photo identification at the polls is in place for the November 6th presidential election.
"The bottom line for voters is our photo ID law in Wisconsin is constitutional -- that it will ultimately be upheld," Van Hollen said.
The state Supreme Court already declined once this year to get involved. But Van Hollen says now the justices have more information -- and could rule to overturn the injunctions.
Two lower courts have blocked the law calling it unconstitutional. But Van Hollen's request is essentially to take the two cases as one -- and bypass lower courts so the matter is dealt with decisively as soon as possible.
"Why wouldn't everyone want a final decision sooner than later, so we can move on with photo ID or without photo ID?" Van Hollen said.
Congressman James Clyburn is one of the nation's leading voices on civil rights. He was in Milwaukee Tuesday, August 21st campaigning for President Barack Obama when he weighed in on the voter ID issue.
"I would hate to see us go so far to try to win an election that we lose our way as a country. That's the fear here. I would hope that what the attorney general is attempting to do here will not be allowed to contribute to this country losing its way," Clyburn said.
Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, is an outspoken critic of voter ID laws. He says they place an unfair burden on minorities and the elderly, who he says are less likely to have photo IDs. He says the push for a quick decision is politically motivated.
"I think we all know there was a template developed for these voter ID laws by ALEC, and that template was sent to all of these newly elected Republican governors and legislatures. This is a coordinated effort across the nation to supress the vote," Clyburn said.
Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin law is designed to prevent fraud.
"I was the original author of the photo ID requirement when I was in the state Assembly. To me, it's a common sense proposal," Gov. Walker said.
The high court has not indicated whether it will take the cases.
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