by Michael Brox
Remember when all it took to vote in Milwaukee and through out Wisconsin was a utility bill or mail with your name and address on it?
The poll worker would look at a list of registered voters, find your name and address and you could vote. Simple right? Well, not any more!
In this article, I will explain exactly what it will take for you to vote in Wisconsin in 2012. New state law requires unregistered voters to get a free voter ID card before they can exercise the ultimate gift of a democracy. But with this law comes a number of obstacles.
Earlier this year, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill passed by the legislature, which requires state residents to have a valid form of identification showing that they are a legal resident of the state of Wisconsin.
According to the Government Accountability Board (GAB), acceptable forms of identification are:
1) A Wisconsin drivers license
2) Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) issued photo ID card
3) U.S. passport
4) Military identification card (however these documents must not have expired earlier than the date of the last November election
5) Certificate of naturalization issued within the last two years
6) Unexpired Wisconsin drivers license or state ID receipt
7) Identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in Wisconsin
8) An unexpiered ID issued by a Wisconsin accredited university or college that contains an issuance date, student signature, and expiration date within two years of issuance, along with a separate document showing proof of current enrollment.
The ID does not need to show a current address.
If an individual is eligible to vote but doesn’t have an acceptable ID, the new law allows the person to obtain a “free” ID for the purpose of voting.
My interest in sharing the aforementioned information stems from my involvement with other individuals who are working with lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in conjunction with the NAACP, to gather information to launch a probable lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin.
I and other volunteers have been posting our selves outside various Department of Motor Vehicles locations and asking people to fill out questionnaires on what, if any, problems they have had in obtaining their free ID. People come down to the DMV thinking they can stop in and simply pick up the ID. But it doesn’t always go that way.
For example, I spoke to a lady who I’ll call “Mary.” Mary is a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. In order for her to get to the DMV to pick up her ID, she must call the Para-Transit people to drive her to the DMV to get a identification card.
A round trip will cost Mary $32. On the particular day I spoke to her at the DMV’s downtown location, she was unable to get her ID because the computer was down. This meant Mary had to come back the next day (which she did because I was there when she returned). The cost of her voter ID was $64 (the cost for having to use Para-Transit two days in a row).
There were other stories of people walking several miles for the ID only to be told that they did not have proper paper work. Others were told since they were requesting a duplicate ID there would be a $16 fee.
Even those without a physical handicap are faced with obstacles: Finding a babysitter, arranging for a ride, gas money, or catching the bus. All these things can be prohibitive for people on low or fixed incomes who want a free ID to vote in the upcoming elections in 2012.
Oh, did I mention that the “free” part of “free ID” is a one time only deal? When your ID expires, YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE NEXT ONE. On more than one occasion I have seen DMV workers issue certificates to patrons telling them their ID would be sent to them through the mail. This lead me to wonder why was it necessary for them to send some through the mail and others received theirs on the spot? This decision seemed to be arbitrary and totally up to the discretion of the DMV worker, which I find to be totally unacceptable.
I have a few recommendations that will make the acquisition of a ID card a little easier:
• When going for your ID card, have your social security card and birth certificate with you.
• If you’re going to get a duplicate ID made, bring $16 with you.
• Don’t wait! Do it now because you have to have lived in your current address for at least 28 days prior to voting.
Don’t let anyone ever deny you your right to vote! It’s too important.
For information about absentee voting, exemptions, provisional ballots, etc., call the Milwaukee County Election Commission at (414) 278-4060. There hours are 8a.m. to 5p.m. Yo can also go to the Web. Visit htt://gab.wi.gov and click to voter photo ID.
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