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Dane County judge delays ruling on Van Hollen case against GAB

We may not know until after the November elections if Wisconsin will have to double-check up to a million voter registrations made since the start of 2006.

After a hearing Wednesday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said she won't decide the question until Oct. 23. The expected appeals mean a final ruling probably won't come until after Wisconsinites vote on Nov. 4.

The judge also agreed to let both major political parties join the case, as well as a coalition of labor unions.

But Sumi won't make Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen withdraw.

Van Hollen sued the state's Government Accountability Board two weeks ago. He says the board is not following the Federal Help America Vote Act by checking people's voter applications with things like their driver's licenses from 2006 on.

The board says those checks only had to be done since early August. Thousands of discrepancies have turned up.

But officials say most are inadvertent, involving things like a missing birthday or the use of a nickname. Van Hollen says some of it could be fraud, and that's why he's suing. But critics say he's just trying to stop certain people from voting.

The board said Van Hollen's lawsuit poses a conflict, because his department represents the same agency in other cases. But Judge Sumi says other individuals within the Justice Department do that and the attorney general has broad powers to enforce the law.

Her decision not to make Van Hollen withdraw is also a defeat for Democrats who said the AG was merely carrying water for the Republicans since he co-chairs John McCain's White House campaign.

Meanwhile, the parties and unions can pursue their own issues in the case.

The GOP has already said the judge should require photo IDs at the polls, something Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has rejected three times in the legislative process.