-By Patrick Marley
October 20, 2011- The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin sued the state Thursday in an attempt to block a new requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls.
The suit argues the state constitution allows the Legislature to exclude felons and the incompetent from voting but cannot restrict others from voting. The new photo ID law creates a new class of people who cannot vote – those without ID – and thus violates the constitution, the suit argues.
The case will be heard by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess.
Republicans who control state government approved the photo ID requirement in May, after trying to do so for more than a decade. It is scheduled to take effect in February.
Proponents argue the measure would discourage voter fraud and give the public more faith in elections. Critics counter that there are no cases of voter impersonation and that the law will make it harder for minorities and the elderly to vote.
The suit was brought by the league and its president, Melanie Ramey, against Gov. Scott Walker and the Government Accountability Board, which is responsible for running state elections.
"Founded by the suffragists who won the right to vote for women in 1920 after a decades-long struggle, the League of Women Voters believes voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed," Ramey said in a statement. "We are appalled by the stories the league is hearing about the barriers people are facing in trying to obtain an acceptable ID."
Walker said in a statement that requiring photo ID to vote was common sense.
"Ensuring the integrity of our elections is one of the core functions of government," Walker said. "Photo ID moves Wisconsin forward."
A spokesman for the accountability board had no immediate comment.