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Clerks trying to figure out what to do with new ID law in wake of judge's decision

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Wisconsin's local election clerks received guidance yesterday on how to proceed, after a judge temporarily halted the state's voter ID law on Tuesday.

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Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said only the photo I-D provisions of the law are affected. That means voters still have to follow new time limits for voting absentee - and they still must live at their present addresses for 28 days instead of the previous 10. Witzel-Behl said voters no longer have to submit copies of their photo ID's to get absentee ballots. But those requests must still be made in writing. And Witzel-Behl is asking voters to provide contact information like phone numbers, in case the courts change the requirements again before the next elections on April third.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said yesterday he would appeal this week's ruling from Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan. The judge issued a temporary injunction that strikes down the photo ID mandate for voting, at least until a trial can be held in mid-April on a lawsuit which seeks to kill the new voting law for good.

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If seniors cannot go get the photo ID's they need to vote, then the state would go to them under a bill proposed by a pair of Wisconsin Democrats. Madison Representative Chris Taylor and Milwaukee Senator Lena Taylor have introduced bills in their respective houses to create mobile service centers run by the Division of Motor Vehicles. The centers would create photo ID's for seniors where they live - and Chris Taylor also says the bill would let people sign affidavits if they're not able to get any of the acceptable ID's under the new state law. A judge put the voter ID law on hold this week, pending a mid-April trial on a lawsuit from black and Hispanic groups. But Taylor says she'll keep pushing for her bill as long as there's a chance that the law can be upheld. Lena Taylor says she wants to give seniors free access to birth certificates, which would make it easier for them to get photo ID's. The state has charged for those documents for years. And critics of the voter ID law say it amounts to an illegal poll tax for the estimated 180,000 Wisconsin seniors who don't have driver's licenses or other acceptable ID's. There was no immediate word on how much the Taylors' proposals would cost - or whether majority Republicans would consider them as the current session enters its final week.

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