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Wisconsin voter ID injunction immediately changes rules for absentee voting


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A Dane County judge's temporary injunction barring enforcement of Wisconsin's photo ID law in the April 3 election immediately affects the rules for voting absentee, says Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl.

Voters requesting absentee ballots will no longer need to include a photocopy of their photo ID, she says. But they will still need to put their request in writing and include their name, address and a signature.

Witzel-Behl says she and other clerks have been instructed by the Government Accountability Board to keep a "detailed account" of which absentee ballots are submitted with ID and which are not, in case the rules change once again before the election.

The clerk's office is expecting high demand for absentee ballots since the April 3 election -- which includes the Republican primary for president, two school board races and a circuit court judge contest -- falls during the spring break for Madison's schools.

There's also a smaller window for voting absentee at the clerk's office, due to a recent change in state law. Voters used to be able to vote until 5 p.m. the Monday before a Tuesday election; the cut-off is now Friday at 5 p.m.

As a result the clerk's office will be open for voting on Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Sunday, March 25, from 1-4 p.m.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan ruled Tuesday that the plaintiffs challenging the photo ID law the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and the immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera -- showed "the likelihood of irreparable harm" on voters if the Photo ID law were in place for the April election. Flanagan ordered the GAB and Gov. Scott Walker to cease any enforcement of the law pending an April 16 trial on a permanent injunction.

The Government Accountability Board said in a news release late Tuesday that it was consulting with the state Attorney General's Office on whether to appeal the ruling.

Witzel-Behl says her office will have to revise the instructions on its website and change the advice it gives to voters. She says she is already starting to think about what would happen if the rules change, again, after her office has trained the more than 1,300 poll workers who will staff Madison's 88 polling places on April 3. The training begins March 22 and runs through April 2.

"If the rules change after all our training takes place, we would really have to scramble to get word out to our election officials."

The complete ruling follows.

Wisconsin Voter ID Temporary Injunction 030612

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