Sep 24, 2011

A Voter ID Reality Overlooked

No, you don't
Update: So strong is the franchise to vote in Wisconsin that attorney Lester Pines noted in orals before the Wisconsin Supreme Court that even mandating registration of voters had to be accomplished through a state Constitutional amendment first enacted in 1882. League of Wisconsin Women Voters v. Scott Walker.

As challenges to Wisconsin's voter suppression law [polling place ID] proceed, one startling aspect of the debate is not from the GOP spin machine, rather the lack of examination on how the law would operate in our system that most certainly does preserve the integrity of elections in scrutinizing voters.

Register to vote

This is because before you vote, you have to register to vote; see  Wisconsin Voter Registration Application.

To register to vote you need to establish who you are, and where you are (residency) with government and employee IDs, leases, utility bills, bank statements, etc; and if you have a driver's license you need to register with your driver's licence.

In addition, you need to sign the voter reg. form stating that you are aware that falsification of any information is a Class 1 felony in Wisconsin.

That's before you can vote.

Photo ID

Now, in addition to these residency and registration requirements, the GOP voter-id-at-polling-place law then adds a layer of obstruction for voters, mandating only GOP-proscribed photo IDs must also be presented when voting. [see bottom]

Not a problem for most of us.

But those not fitting the GOP proper-voter bill such as disaffected veterans, low-income, mobile students, and the homeless, and significantly many black folks in Milwaukee County, would be refused at the polls; their franchise is not enough.

Rick Esenberg, the GOP's go-to guy on voter suppression, even says as much about the current registration requirements [which many registrants find invasive] telling "the Journal Sentinel he believes the courts would consider the ID law an extension of residency and registration requirements." [Crockett]

An "extension" that has been carefully worded when the GOP rejected input from the League of Women Voters and civil rights groups in hatching its voter scheme passed with no Democratic support.

The GOP objectives are modest: Suppress the total vote; make the voting experience insulting to the casual voter. This way, real Americans, white, single home-owning Americans, can cast their ballot and have their votes counted.

You can't get around the Twenty-fourth Amendment outlawing poll taxes, but you can keep this fact of no polling taxes very quiet, as Chis Larson, Wisconsin state employee fired for blowing the whistle on the Voter ID Poll Tax, will tell you.

As John Nichols writes, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation head directs DMV employees "to refrain from actively informing the public about the ability to receive a free identification card for the purposes of voting."

Going to the polls, Wisconsin "[c]itizens face a higher burden. They must either pay for their ID or they must work their way through a bureaucratic maze expressly designed to deny them information about the fact that they have a right to a free ID."

This is a classic poll tax structure. While the law on the books may suggest flexibility, the implementation of the law has been designed to erect barriers to voting by those who cannot afford the fee."

Ernest Canning writes, "The coordinated, nationwide GOP voter suppression effort was aptly described by Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, ... as 'the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era.'"
Wisconsin Government Accountability Board - Acceptable Photo IDS
•A Wisconsin DoT-issued driver license

•A Wisconsin DoT-issued identification card

•An identification card issued by a U.S. uniformed service

• A U.S. passport

(Identifications above must be unexpired, or if expired, have expired after the date of the most recent general election.)

•A certificate of naturalization that was issued not earlier than two years before the date of an election at which it is presented

•An unexpired driving receipt issued by Wisconsin DoT.

•An unexpired identification card receipt issued by Wisconsin DoT.

•An identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin

•An unexpired identification card issued by a Wisconsin-accredited university or college that contains the following:

-- Date of Issuance

-- Signature of Student

-- Expiration date not later than two years after Date of Issuance

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