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Federal Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin's voter ID law, citing research shows undue burden on Latino and black voters.
Image: Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship
2012 file photo of voters in Wisconsin, 2012Andy Manis / Getty Images

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin's voter ID law on Tuesday, saying it was unconstitutional and violated the Voting Rights Act.

In a 70-page ruling, Judge Lynn Adelman said the law's defenders could not point "to a single instance" of known voter impersonation in the state. At the same time, Adelman cited research done by Latino Decisions political scientists Matt Barreto and Gabriel Sanchez that showed that Hispanic as well as black voters were significantly more likely to be impacted by the law. Minorities would have to "pay the cost, in the form of time or bother or out-of-pocket expense, to obtain what is essentially a license to vote," said Judge Adelman.

After the ruling, Barreto told NBC News their research showed "a very clear and unmistakable pattern - Black and Latino citizen adults were less likely to possess a valid photo ID than Whites," and said the law would have disenfranchised thousands of black and Latino voters at disproportionate rates.

Barreto said the court rulings in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and now Wisconsin are "mounting evidence that other states should strongly consider with respect to their own voter ID laws." Trials regarding voter ID laws are pending in North Carolina and Texas.

In Wisconsin, those backing the law, including Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, have said they would appeal the ruling.