State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Many anxious constituents inquire about the status of Wisconsin voter ID, and sense a subversion of the duly elected Senate, Assembly, and Governor.
After approval of 2011 Act 23, two lawsuits were filed resulting in injunctions by two Dane County judges, and two voter ID lawsuits in Wisconsin appellate courts.
Dane County Judge Richard Niess ruled in the case initiated last October by the League of Women Voters that “the legislature and governor have exceeded their constitutional authority” by approving voter ID.
Niess’ March 12 order blocking the law is contested by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), and is in District IV Court of Appeals Madison. It is appeal number 2012AP584 and is in front of Judges Brian Blanchard, Paul Higginbotham, and Paul Lundsten.
In the other suit, brought by the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera last December, Dane County Judge David Flanagan ordered July 17, 2012, there is “little benefit” to voter ID. He cited a recent study claiming ID requirements “appear to have no effect upon public confidence in the process.”
DOJ appealed Flanagan’s ruling a week later. Pursuant to recent changes to appellate venue laws, the appellate district based in Madison cannot hear the appeal. Instead, the case is scheduled to be heard by the District II Court of Appeals Waukesha. It is appeal number 2012AP1652. The League of Women Voters case originated prior to appellate venue law changes and remains in Dane County.
Thus far, DOJ has used every opportunity to expedite the cases and obtain a favorable decision as soon as possible.
Strong majorities of Wisconsinites favor voter ID and are frustrated plaintiffs continuously argue the law disenfranchises thousands of voters, despite the fact IDs are provided free of charge and Wisconsin already experienced a successful election with voter ID last February.
Legislators worked tirelessly to model voter ID after a law upheld by the US Supreme Court 2008 case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.
In that decision, liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, joining a six-justice majority upholding Indiana’s law, stated voter ID is “amply justified by the valid interest in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.'"
Similarly, Wisconsin DOJ points out in its brief to the District IV Court of Appeals that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has consistently held the right to vote is “subject to reasonable legislative regulation designed to protect the integrity of the electoral process.”
Despite this favorable precedent, the cases will be fully vetted by Wisconsin courts. Due to separation of powers, neither I nor any of my legislative colleagues have power over the outcome or timeline.
It is time for the courts to uphold the will of the voters, uphold common sense, and uphold the law.