-By Ed Treleven and Mary Spicuzza

March 6, 2012- A Dane County judge on Tuesday barred the enforcement of the state photo ID law at polling places during the general election on April 3, calling it an "extremely broad and largely needless" impairment of the right to vote.

Circuit Judge David Flanagan said the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera had demonstrated that their lawsuit against Gov. Scott Walker and the state Government Accountability Board would probably succeed on its merits and had demonstrated the likelihood of irreparable harm if the photo ID law is allowed to stand. (Read the injunction)

But hours after news of Flanagan's ruling broke, conservative activists began circulating a link that showed that Flanagan had signed a petition to recall Walker. (See the recall petition)

Flanagan granted a temporary injunction ordering Walker and the GAB to "cease immediately any effort to enforce or implement the photo identification requirements" of the law, pending a trial on a permanent injunction scheduled before him on April 16.

"If no injunction is issued, a clearly improper impairment of a most vital element of our society will occur," Flanagan wrote. "The duty of the court is clear. The case has been made. Irreparable harm is likely to occur in the absence of an injunction."

Republicans pushed the law through the Legislature last year to stop voter fraud. But opponents of the law have said it goes too far and keeps eligible voters from casting ballots, especially minorities, the poor and the disabled.

Dana Brueck, spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, which is defending the law in court, said DOJ is reviewing the ruling and is likely to appeal.

"We disagree with the ruling and will continue our efforts to defend Wisconsin's voter ID law, which is similar to laws that have already been upheld by the United States Supreme Court," Brueck said.

Democrats applauded Flanagan's decision.



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