In Wisconsin, Some Voters Are More Equal Than Others

Not an acceptable form of voter ID according to Wisconsin.

Imagine risking your life by serving in the United States military and helping to defend our most precious freedoms, including our right to vote. Now imagine coming home from military service and being told by your government that you cannot exercise the very fundamental right that you have risked your life to protect. 

This is the message that the Wisconsin legislature has sent to many United States veterans now living in Wisconsin, many of whom are struggling with poverty and homelessness as a result of being ignored and left behind by the government that they served. Whatever else they may be deprived of, many of them at least possess a photo identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, an ID card that should be a badge of honor. But under Wisconsin’s voter ID law, this badge of honor is a badge of disenfranchisement. That is because Veterans’ IDs are not accepted for purposes of voting.

Why? Because when the Wisconsin legislature passed a voter ID law requiring all voters to show photo identification in order to vote, it purposefully excluded forms of ID held primarily by people from less advantaged backgrounds.

In addition to excluding veterans’ photo IDs (despite objections by Wisconsin’s top elections official), the legislature excluded student IDs from Wisconsin’s two-year technical colleges – but permitted IDs from four-year private universities. And they excluded out-of-state drivers’ licenses, held by many students who attend Wisconsin colleges and can vote in Wisconsin, even if those licenses are unexpired and just as valid as their Wisconsin counterparts.  

Defenders of voter ID say that the purpose of the law is to make sure that voters are who they say they are. But all of these forms of government-issued photo identification accomplish that purpose.   Throughout this litigation, the State has been unable to provide a single legitimate reason why these IDs are not accepted for voting purposes, which calls to question: what is the real purpose behind these voter ID laws?  It appears that some Wisconsin politicians would simply prefer to choose their voters, not the other way around.

On Monday, October 5, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin, along with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and Dechert LLP, will argue in federal district court that this discrimination is unconstitutional. In addition, we will be asking the court to allow certain voters who continue to face difficulties obtaining certain forms of photo ID to be able to vote with an affidavit of identity — a measure that other states with voter ID laws, like Michigan and Idaho, already permit.  It is time for politicians to stop playing games with our democracy, and to make it easier, not harder, to vote. 

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Anonymous

So these people are incapable to obtaining an ID from their local motor vehicle office? Perhaps we should be pushing to ensure that people who cannot afford to obtain an ID can get one for free to ensure everyone has the documents required to prove who they are to cast a legitimate vote.

Anonymous

They have an ID card from the United States Government, why should they be required to get another through the DMV to "prove" who they are? For crying out loud they served their country and have a vetern's ID card but that isn't good enough? Just another example of just how screwed up this country has become...

Gwendolyn Gallagher

1. You must know that many towns do not have a Department of Motor Vehicles office. For a person without a car, it is extremely difficult to get to a such an office in a distant town.
2. We are talking about people who already have reliable IDs. If such IDs are not acceptable it proves that identification is not the purpose of these laws.

Ikarikid

This law sounds to my not-American eyes to be utterly nonsensical. Then again, that could go for quite a lot of things you Americans do (That Pledge of Allegiance thing? An anthem about a flag and not one about a country? One that you've kept all the verses for but don't bother to learn in full? This complete aversion to Universal Health Care?)

Anonymous

Yes, some are incapable of getting to the DMV. The state has also closed several DMV sites or moved others to locations not on bus routes.

Anonymous

GG and Ik, right on all counts. Every time voter ID comes up, there are always people coming out of the woodwork in support of making it more difficult for the financially challenged to vote. Then wait for someone who claims to have been a veteran for decades to say it is not a big deal. Maybe if all Wisconsinite armed forces members serve 30 years instead of only 4 active, they too will have the funds to afford transport to get a Koch-approved ID. Pledging loyalty to a flag rather than to protect and defend the constitution is strange. Conservative icons rail against universal health care and the peasants are indoctrinated against yet another social service that the rich will never have to use. Instead of pushing for free bureaucratic IDs people should have honest and open elections. Stalin is said to have said it is not the person who casts the ballot, but those who count the ballots. Disenfranchisement is one way to help cover for the right *wing* candidates.

Anonymous

I don't know about the situation in Wisconsin, but in Virginia, I do whave a local dmv within walking distance - but I am disabled and government offices don't do accessibility.

Anonymous

So glad that our service to our country is a no value to you. Sorry to have bled and continue to bleed over your right to extinguish our rights.

Dale Vikings

If votes aren't controlled, money and resources will be lost on social services, schools, highways, meds for seniors and less will be there for the rich who make new jobs overseas.

Wisconsin is a business friendly state. The business of America is business, said Calvin Coolidge. He was talking about the country and probably meant Wisconsin, too. No controls on business is good if it worked and if people didn't make fun of it. If segments will vote against business, the legislature has a duty and obligation to take away the privilege to vote. Who would not want to stop this travesty of voting against free enterprise? The real question is if the tax rates are lowered for the 1 percent, how many more jobs will there be for these disenfranchised voters to be hotel maids and cabana boys?

With all the new jobs from the benevolent rich, who can not get behind this new jobs program? Who is singing Ashcrofts the Eagle is Sore Now? We are all flying high!

Vietnam Veteran...

This is just that creep you call your governor -Scott Walker's doing upon instructions from his owner-The Koch Bros.

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