Vet told Veterans' ID invalid for voting, others completely disenfranchised in first roll-out of Republican anti-voter law...
Well, golly, who coulda seen this coming? And I suspect it's just the beginning...
Tuesday was the official launch of Wisconsin's new Voter-I.D. law, with citizens now required to present a photo-identification card in order to cast a ballot in the primaries for local elections. And as it turns out, one man refused to vote, because he was so angry that his card from the Department of Veterans Affairs was not on the approved list.
As the Racine Journal Times reported, 69-year old veteran Gil Paar was shocked when poll workers told him his photo I.D. from the V.A. wasn't on the accepted list. They then asked him if he had a driver's license -- which he did -- but he instead refused to show it and left the precinct. "Basically I was trying to make a point," Paar told the paper. "I gave them four years of my life, why shouldn't I be able to use my vet's card?"
As the paper reports, the state election officials explain that the way the law was written, a military-related I.D. must be issued by a uniform service -- which does not include the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bottom line: For whatever the reason might be, whether intentional or an accident, V.A. cards were not included on the list.
Paar also explained that he sees a serious problem: "There's a possibility that a veteran could have only this type of I.D., because he's had a stroke, let's say, up at the V.A. hospital. And because of that, he had his driver's license taken away. So case in point, he would have only this Veterans Administration I.D. through the hospital.
"And they're telling me I can't use it, I couldn't use it. this is not right. you've got a guy who serves, does his time in the Air Force, or Army or the Navy, and then he comes home and can't vote? What the f--- did I go in for?"
There were other similar stories Tuesday, during the first full roll-out of the Wisconsin GOP's new anti-voter law, passed disingenuously under the guise of curbing "voter fraud." And Tuesday's was just a tiny election. For example, this from Isthmus' The Daily Page...
Melanie Sax and other poll workers recognized the longtime voter. They also found her name and address in the poll book. But she did not have a photo ID for Tuesday's primary so she could not vote.
"She was fairly recently in a car accident and couldn't make it to the DOT to get a Wisconsin ID," said Sax, the chief elections inspector at the polling location at Trinity United Methodist Church on Vilas Avenue. The woman, who does not drive, has neither a driver's license nor a state ID.
That woman was Marge Curtin, 62, who has been living and voting in the Vilas Avenue area for some 40 years. In fact, one of her good friends, whom she met while a nursing student at St. Marys in the 1960s, was working the polls Tuesday.
"We're so lucky to be in this country and to be able to vote," she says. Being shut out of the process hurt: "I did feel bad."
According to poll officials, Curtin was one of two voters turned away for lack of photo ID at the Vilas Avenue polling station Tuesday, the first election in which the state's new requirements were fully in place.
There was also continued confusion among poll workers over the photo ID requirements. Attorney Tim Verhoff, who recently moved to a new house, says he had no problem when he presented his driver's license with his old address. But his wife's license with her old address was rejected at the same polling station. That should not have happened.
Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, says Tuesday's primary may not typically draw the people who are most at risk from the voter ID law, including seniors, minorities and students.
And, she adds, "We don't know how many people just don't even try because they've heard about this new law and are concerned they don't have what they need."
Have a feeling we ain't seen nothing yet. There will be many more of these stories in the coming months. Unless something changes, this is likely to be a very ugly election year -- for the voters.
Legal and Constitutional challenges to these new laws around the country, as passed by Republican legislatures and governors in the wake of the 2010 election, are working their way through the courts on behalf of those who are likely to be disenfranchised by them. In Wisconsin, two different law suits -- one by the League of Women Voters of WI and another by the ACLU -- have already been filed.
Elsewhere, the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction law in South Carolina was recently rejected by the U.S. Dept. of Justice after it was found, according to the state's own statistics, to discriminate against minorities, a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which requires a number of jurisdictions in the country with a history of racial discrimination to receive federal preclearance for all new election laws.
The state has vowed to appeal the DoJ's ruling. The section of the 47-year old Voting Rights Act requiring preclearance for new election laws in some 17 jurisdictions in the nation is also being challenged by opponents of the law who charge the law itself is discriminatory...against those jurisdictions. The VRA was renewed for another 25 years in 2006 by bi-partisan votes of 98 to 0 in the U.S. Senate and 390 to 33 in the Republican-controlled U.S. House. The renewal was signed by George W. Bush.