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Voter ID ruling creating confusion for primary

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Associated Press | August 11, 2014

MADISON — Voters will not have to show photo identification to cast a ballot in Tuesday's primary election, but poll watchers say they're still concerned there could be confusion thanks to a recent state Supreme Court ruling that the photo ID law is constitutional.

The court's decision didn't reinstate the law because the photo ID requirement was previously blocked in federal court. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is trying to get that ruling put on hold in time for the November general election.

The opposing legal views create confusion, especially for voters who aren't paying close attention or may be misinformed, said Larry Dupuis, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin. The biggest concern is that someone without an ID may assume they can't vote, so they won't show up, Dupuis said.

"There's certainly some potential for confusion," he said. "There's always some risk because if people only see a headline or the beginning of a TV news report and the takeaway is it's been upheld, there's a risk people won't look beyond that. And there's also the rumor mill."

The ACLU represented individuals who challenged the photo ID requirement in the federal lawsuit, which was blocked and called unconstitutional. Dupuis said even one of the ACLU's clients was confused about the status of the law after hearing about the state Supreme Court upholding the law on July 31 — 12 days before the primary.

"Unfortunately, not everyone can pick up their phone and call an attorney to straighten it out," Dupuis said.

The state's chief elections official, Kevin Kennedy, deflected concerns, saying he wasn't worried about voters not coming to the polls out of confusion. Many voters who don't know the status of the law come prepared with a photo ID just in case, he said.



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