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Judge allows Wisconsin voters to go to the polls without photo ID

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Wisconsin voters who do not have photo identification will be able to vote in November’s presidential election, a judge ruled on Tuesday, the latest development in a long fight over a state law Democrats say is aimed at keeping minorities from the polls.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman temporarily eases the impact of a 2011 Wisconsin law requiring voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot.

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“Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort,” Adelman said in his order.

Wisconsin is one of several Republican-led states that have passed such laws in recent years amid fear of fraudulent voting by illegal immigrants and others. The nine states with the strictest laws – insisting on state-issued photo identification for voters – include Texas, Virginia, Indiana and Georgia.

Republicans say voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. But Democrats say the laws are really intended to make it more difficult for poor African-Americans and Latinos – who skew Democratic in their politics – to vote.

Under Adelman’s temporary injunction, people without ID can vote if they sign an affidavit at the polls declaring that they could not reasonably obtain photo identification and explaining why.

Allowable reasons include lack of a birth certificate or other documents required to obtain a photo ID, lack of transportation, disability and a tight work schedule.

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Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who had opposed allowing affidavits, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed against the state in 2011 by the American Civil Liberties Union and others on behalf of voters who said they were disenfranchised.

An earlier ruling by Adelman on the same lawsuit would have overturned the voter ID law entirely, but that was overruled by a federal appeals court, and last year the U.S. Supreme Court let the appeals ruling stand.

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The case is now back with Adelman, who must decide whether to require the state to make the affidavit system permanent.

Richard Hasen, a law and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine, said that if the temporary injunction becomes permanent, it would soften Wisconsin’s law.

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“If it stands, it potentially blows open a big hole in the law,” he said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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COVID-19

White House adds 20 percent increase to ‘best case’ projection of coronavirus deaths

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The White House is moving the goal posts once again. Instead of taking drastic action, like asking every state's governor to mandate a quarantine to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is quietly upping its projected death toll, just one day after stunning Americans with a six-digit death rate.

On Sunday President Donald Trump told Americans he thinks if 100,000 Americans die from coronavirus he will have done "a very good job."

On Monday Dr. Deborah Birx announced the White House is projecting 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.

Tuesday evening, the number increased 20 percent.

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Elections 2016

Olympic athletes in ‘impossible position’ – Canada

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Canadian Olympic chiefs said Monday the health and safety of athletes had prompted the country's decision to withdraw its team from the Tokyo Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after Canada became the first team to announce its withdrawal from the July 24-August 9 Games, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) chief David Shoemaker said athletes had been left in an "impossible position."

With public health authorities urging individuals to stay inside to curb the spread of COVID-19, athletes had been caught between a desire to heed health and safety advice while trying to minimize disruption to training programs.

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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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