US Election 2016: Voter ID laws threaten lifelong voters



US Election 2016: Voter ID laws threaten lifelong voters

67-year-old Leroy Switlick is angry.
He’s angry because he’s made three separate trips to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in Milwaukee to get a photo ID so he can vote in next month’s general election.
Each time he’s come away empty-handed.
Leroy has voted in every presidential election for more than 40 years, but Wisconsin’s new voter ID law means that even though he’s registered, he will not be able to cast his ballot without showing photo ID such as a driving licence or passport.
“It’s silly,” he says.
Switlick, who has been partially sighted for most of his life, never learned to drive - and so never had a driver’s license. He was not previously required to have a state-issued ID for any other purpose.
“The first question the man behind the counter asked me was ‘Can I see your photo ID?’ Now if I’m coming to get a photo ID, how can I already have a photo ID?”
Each time he visited the DMV, he took a satchel full of documents including his birth certificate.
But the DMV never actually examined his papers.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says his state’s legislation will make it “easier to vote, but hard to cheat” and that the law is justified even if only one fraudulent vote in prevented.
Mr Thomsen says he has seen no evidence that impersonation has been a problem in the state. And a researcher at Loyola Law School found only 31 cases of credible voter impersonation that would have been stopped by such laws between 2000 and 2014 across the US, out of a billion ballots cast.
The Brennan Center at New York University has been keeping track of voter ID legislation around the country. It says that despite the striking down of laws in states such as North Carolina, there are still eight states that will have strict photo ID laws for the first time in a presidential election, accounting for more than 80 electoral College votes out of 538.
“We’re not just talking about 10 people here and there”, says Adam Gitlin, counsel in the Democracy programme at the Brennan Center.

In southern Virginia, Barbara Lee echoes that analysis.
She’s spent her life as a Democratic activist, and now goes door-to-door in low income neighbourhoods registering voters.
Virginia has similar requirements to Wisconsin. It will issue a free ID for voters who can get to a local registration office, but, says Barbara, that’s not so easy when the office is only open weekdays and shuts for an hour at lunchtime:
“If this one woman works at Walmart and rides the city transit, and this one’s babysitting her children, then when she gets off work she’s coming home and it’s after six o’clock. There’s no way that babysitter can get down town, there’s no way that Walmart worker can get down town.”
Court action continues against the laws in both Virginia and Wisconsin, though it seems unlikely there will be much change before 8 November.
Bruce Spiva, a partner at Perkins Coie law firm, is involved in the litigation in both states. He says the restrictions could affect the outcome in close races such as Virginia and Wisconsin, depressing the Democratic vote.

In the case of the blind gentleman I’m surprised that non-driver IDs aren’t available or perhaps the clerk is uninformed.
Here in NY, at least in some counties DMV offices are open on Saturdays two weeks a month.
I don’t have a problem with voter ID per se but if a state is going to make it mandatory they should make it convenient to get.


I have a state ID - I don’t drive either. It was something like $25 to get it and is good for 5 years. I need it to fly and at the doctor’s office.


In California, at least, you need a photo ID. The state issues nondriver ID"s. My eighty-eight year old mother has one. She needs it every time she goes to the doctor. You need one to open a bank account and are expected to have one when you ride public transit. I don’t understand how someone could survive without one at least in an urban area.


I agree with having to have ID to vote. I have a difficult time believing that most people don’t have some form of ID whether a driver’s license or state issued ID. When they talk about the poor or disenfranchised being left out of the process I just don’t buy it. Most of that population is likely getting some type of government services, food stamps, Medicaid, SSI or SSD, and all of those require an ID. In the article above there is a portion that talks about a woman working at Walmart not being able to get downtown…you need an ID to have a job so it’s unlikely she would need to get downtown to get one.

For the odd cases of folks truly not being able to get ID, there should be some assistance to help them get one. But I don’t buy the liberal argument that having ID to vote is discriminatory in any way.


The fact that your mother has a photo ID and was able to get one in California fairly easily does not help the blind guy in Wisconsin who visited the DMV three times, even bringing his birth certificate, and was still not given one. And having a bank account is not a pre-requisite for voting. Requiring a photo ID is fine. Requiring a photo ID and making it difficult for some people to get one is not. If it is the government’s decision to require a photo ID, it should be the government’s responsibility to see to it that any citizen who wants one is given one.


This sounds like lack of training at the clerk level.


It could very well be. But disenfranchisement is disenfranchisement, whether it is from lack of clerk training or deliberate manipulation.


I have a problem with requiring papers for trying to execute your Constitutional rights. These would include voting, travel, gun ownership, speaking, gathering, religious activity, commerce, etc. It smacks of what totalitarian governments do.

If private businesses (banks, doctor’s, hospitals, etc) want to ask for ID, fine. But the minute a government regulation forces them to ask for ID, I have a problem with it.


I do, too. I have trouble also with Social Security cards being used for ID at doctor’s offices, schools,etc.
If government is going to require an ID to vote ( and it should, given the numbers of illegal aliens who should not be eligible, a problem caused by government not doing its job), then ID’s ought to be easy to get, in terms of logistics - birth certificate, etc. - and virtually free.


How then would you suggest that we keep people who are not entitled to those rights from fraudulently exercising what doesn’t belong to them (non-citizens voting, felons buying guns, etc.)?


Other than voting, the only reason people are not allowed to do things are due to regulations not in the Constitution. As for voting, how did we ever manage before photography existed?


1)only men were allowed to vote (and I think were property owners as well.)

  1. voter fraud was rare obviously.

  2. illegal immigration was rare, too



I guess I did not make myself clear. If someone does not have a photo id they cannot get medical care except in an emergency. They cannot bank. They cannot receive food stamps and so forth. That they are not able to vote should be the least of their worries.

I am sorry if it is the case that Wisconsin is such a state that it is very difficult to get a government issued photo id. Perhaps we should focus on allowing people out of the mainstream to actually get a photo id.


Of course we should. But until that happens, does it make sense to require photo id to vote while that photo id is not easy to get for some? It is all well and good to say “it looks a training problem with the clerks”, or “we should focus on allowing people out of the mainstream to get a photo id”. But after we say that, we still have citizens who and prevented from voting. And we have an election coming up right now. Is it fair to tell those that are prevented from voting “Don’t worry. We’re working on it.”?


I agree that the state governments should deal with the issues with photo id’s first before requiring one to vote.:wink:


As an FYI,

Here is what is required by the WI DMV to get the ID

Proof of name and date of birth, for example, a certified U.S. birth certificate, valid passport or certificate of naturalization. (See ID Petition Process​ if fees arise in order to obtain free ID card for voting).
Proof of identity (usually a document with a signature or photo).
Proof of Wisconsin residency.
Proof of U.S. citizenship, legal permanent resident status, legal conditional resident status or legal temporary visitor status.
Your social security number.

There is no charge for the ID.

The question then becomes, are any of these requirements unreasonable, and what happens when an applicant has some of the required documents, but not all.


Why do they need your SSN?
The fourth item seems redundant, given the first and third items.


Federal REAL ID requirements

The fourth item seems redundant, given the first and third items.

Not necessarily. The valid passport could be a foreign one, and you would still need to prove that you are in the US legally, such as your ‘Green card’, and that you actually live in Wisconsin.

Remember, this is just for getting a State ID, not necessarily for voting.


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