A federal judge announced Wednesday he won’t rule until after the Nov. 3 election on a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s requirement that student IDs include an expiration date to qualify as a valid ID for voting.
Judge James Petersen wrote in an order today it was too close to the election to change the standard, particularly with the inevitable appeals if he ruled for those challenging the law. That, he wrote, could lull students into thinking they don’t need an ID that meets state requirements only to find out following appeals that wasn’t the case.
Such uncertainty is “exactly the chaos and confusion” the U.S. Supreme Court warned against when it instructed federal judges to avoid changing state rules close to an election, he wrote.
State law requires student IDs to include a name, photo and issuance date to qualify as a voter ID. The card also must include an expiration date not longer than two years after it was issued.
Peterson wrote in his ruling the plaintiffs had only identified six private colleges and universities and two technical and community colleges that don’t offer a compliant ID. They also hadn’t identified any student who would be unable to obtain a compliant ID before the Nov. 3 election.
“If the court were to issue an order changing the status quo now, it would leave the (Elections) Commission and municipal clerks with little time to issue new guidance and retrain staff,” Peterson wrote. “The nearly inevitable appeal would mean weeks of uncertainty as the case was reviewed by the court of appeals and possibly the Supreme Court.”
Today’s order also canceled a hearing that had been planned tomorrow in the suit.