Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Voter ID Laws Discriminate Against Seniors

This entry was prompted when someon did a search that said
Need help getting a free voter ID for senior citizen.

When you see that in your search statistics - you know immediately that
(a)  there is a problem out there for regular folks
(b)  that problem is about senior citizens
(c)  friends and families of senior citizens are going to have to FIX THIS!

This particular side of the issue doesn't get much coverage - they mostly talk about students and people of color - which is justified.

But being "almost a senior" by census standards - I thought it was important to take a look at this.

What follows is a couple of statistics
- then excerpts from seven stories exclusively from Think Progress - as they have the best coverage.
You can link to the full story by clicking the bolded heading above each excerpt.

Some Statistics 
Voting rates for citizens    65 years and  older were statistically unchanged between 2004 and 2008.

And then there are these stats reported on
79 percent - Percentage of U.S. citizens age 65 and older who were registered to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Seniors make up the highest percentage of registered voters in any age group.

•71 percent - Percentage of seniors 65+ who were registered to vote and reported that they voted.
•19 percent - Of all voters in the 2004 election, this percentage was 65 and older

Note this one for the 2040 election

•41 percent - this percentage is projected to be cast by seniors 65 and older - Of all votes expected in the 2040 presidential election
With those statistics in mind
- please take the time to do a little reading
- cause this is what all us "seniors" have to look forward in the coming years
- if we let the Voter ID laws be enacted. 

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube’s privacy statement on their website and Google’s privacy statement on theirs to learn more.

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:

Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.

Thelma Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state drivers’ license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification.

The state now has evidence that that will be the case. Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old Chattanooga resident who says she has voted in every election but one since she became eligible to vote, wanted to ensure she’d have the necessary ID to vote in next year’s elections, when Tennessee’s law goes into effect. But when she went to apply for the ID, she was denied, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports:

That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.

“But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.

“I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said.

Cooper doesn’t have a driver’s license — she never learned to drive — and has never needed identification to vote, and her lack of a valid marriage license is likely due to the fact that she’s outlived two husbands. Under the Tennessee law, Cooper will still be able to vote via absentee ballot, which does not require photo ID. But standing outside her normal voting precinct, Cooper told the Times Free Press she will miss going there to vote. “We always come here to vote,” Cooper said. “The people who run the polls know everybody here.”
Now another senior citizen in Tennessee, 91-year-old Virginia Lasater, may not be able to vote because she wasn’t able to stand in a long line at a DMV to get the necessary ID. Lasater says that she has voted and worked in campaigns for 70 years, but when she tried to get a photo ID recently, she discovered the center was packed and there were no chairs available. A clerk told Lasater and her son there was nothing they could do. Senior citizens who want to be politically active but have trouble moving are apparently just out of luck in 2012. (HT: Ryan Reilly)
In Wisconsin, the new photo ID requirement is creating obstacles that are so onerous, prejudicial, and even paradoxical that many Wisconsinites cannot obtain the necessary photo ID.

Jennifer “Rita” Platt and her boyfriend, for instance, have every intention of voting next year and decided to get a jump start on complying with the new law. Realizing they did not have the necessary forms of identification accepted at the polls, they traveled to a Department of Motor Vehicles 45 minutes away because the DMVs in their county only open one day a month.

Not only was the DMV system down but Platt was told that, even with an expired driver’s license and Social Security card, she didn’t have the right documents to get an ID:

The DMV office’s computer system was down, which meant they couldn’t get an ID processed. And they were told they didn’t have the proper identification to get a state ID card or a Wisconsin driver’s license, Platt said.

“They said I didn’t have a certified birth certificate or a current passport,” said Platt, who said she had asked the DMV what was needed before heading to Hudson.

She had brought an expired Iowa driver’s license, her Social Security card and a pay stub from the St. Croix Falls school district, where she works as a librarian, believing those items would satisfy the DMV’s requirements, she said.

Platt, of Osceola, said she is going to have to find her certified birth certificate or request a new one, take unpaid time off from work and again make the trip to the DMV.

Not only do new birth certificates cost at least $20 each, but obtaining a new birth certificate in Wisconsin is no easy matter due to misleading form that suggests applicants need a “current valid photo ID” to get a birth certificate, which they need to get a photo ID. Worse, by charging any fee whatsoever for a document people need in order to exercise their right to vote, Wisconsin violates the Constitution’s ban on poll taxes.

For 63 years, Brokaw, Wisconsin native Ruthelle Frank went to the polls to vote. Though paralyzed on her left side since birth, the 84-year-old “fiery woman” voted in every election since 1948 and even got elected herself as a member of the Brokaw Village Board. But because of the state’s new voter ID law, 2012 will be the first year Frank can’t vote. Born after a difficult birth at her home in 1927, Frank never received an official birth certificate. Her mother recorded it in her family Bible and Frank has a certification of baptism from a few months later, along with a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, and a checkbook. But without the official document, she can’t secure the state ID card that the new law requires to vote next year.

“It’s really crazy,” she added. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen?” But state officials have informed Frank that, because the state Register of Deeds does have a record of her birth, they can issue her a new birth certificate — for a fee. And because of a spelling error, that fee may be as high as $200:

World War II veteran Darwin Spinks went to a testing center last month to get a photo ID for voting purposes. Under the law, any resident without a photo ID is supposed to get one free of charge. But when Spinks asked for an ID, he was told he had to pay an $8 fee:

Spinks said Tuesday he needed the photo because when his driver’s license with a photo expired the last time, the driver testing center issued him a new license without a photo on it. State law allows people over 60 to get a non-photo driver’s license.

The retired print shop worker who moved here 17 years ago said he told people at the driver center he wanted an ID for voting purposes. He was sent from one line to another to have a picture taken, then was charged.

“I said, ‘You mean I’ve got to pay again?’ She says, ‘Yes,’” explained Spinks, a resident of County Farm Road, who was stationed on the USS Goshen in World War II and was called to duty again for the Korean War.

Forcing an American citizen to pay in order to vote is a clear violation of the constitution’s 24th Amendment:
By Tanya Somanader on Oct 8, 2011 at 9:00 am
Enforcing Voter ID Law During Recall Elections, Wisconsin Poll Workers Falsely Told Voters With Expired Driver’s Licenses That They Can’t Vote | In the name of non-existent threat, GOP-led states across the country have been pushing restrictive voter ID laws that could block more than five million Americans from the ballot boxes. In Wisconsin, the states voter ID law — “the biggest change in Wisconsin voting laws since 18-year-olds were given the right to vote in 1971 — has already caused “widespread confusion” during the recent recall elections. The League of Women Voters released a report detailing mistakes caused by the law. Not only did poll workers inconsistently ask voters to show IDs three months before the law actually goes into effect on Jan. 1, but they told voters in at least four places that “they couldn’t vote next year if their driver’s licenses are expired.” That is false, as “the law allows voters to use expired licenses as far back as November of last year.” One Wisconsin county clerk still insists, however, that the recall election elections went well “primarily because she thinks poll workers were adequately trained” and implemented the law as they should
NOW is the time for seniors (or almost-seniors, or near seniors) to take action to protect our voting rights.

If you choose to do nothing now
- your right to vote may not be available to you in the future.

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