I spent the day reading about people’s personal experiences in adventures to register and acquire ID needed to vote. They include stories of American citizens who are eligible to vote, have voted for decades and who will be denied the vote under this morass of insanity established by the Republicans. It seems ironic that the advocates of “small government” have established a nightmarish and confusing bureaucratic process that will deny Americans the ID they need to exercise their franchise in the name of solving the non-existent problem of voter ID.
The story goes that voter ID protects the weight and value of eligible votes. This conveniently overlooks the fact that denying eligible Americans the right to vote is its own kind of election fraud.
There are stories that speak to a confusing and complicated web of bureaucratic madness created by the alleged advocates of “small government.”
One article, in particular, caught my attention. The author wrote of their own first-hand experience and some others that are reflective of the reality that Americans have been and will be denied the vote.
The author writes of their own difficulties, which I’ll get into in a moment. They also write about an elderly woman who had been a widow for decades but, like many others in a similar position, kept her married name. Her husband died fighting one of our wars. Her son served and died in yet another of our wars. She offered her marriage certificate that proved she was in fact married and that her husband’s death certificate to prove he had in fact died. This is the exchange between that woman and the clerk at the DMV as told by the author:
He was killed in the war….I’ve lived in the same house for over fifty years….you know me.” She was at the brink of tears.
“I understand”, the clerk explained. “Don’t blame me, blame all these bad illegals who are taking advantage of us all and have made it bad for everybody.”
“Well, don’t punish me…I am an American citizen….my husband and son both fought and died in wars for this country and I’m not going to be able to vote?”
The clerk handed her a tissue. “What you will have to do is change your name back to your own name.” She gave her the address and necessary information. “After you have officially changed your name, bring in the official papers and I will be able to issue you a state ID.
The lesson from the author’s story is this: according to a DMV clerk in Kansas, a woman’s married name expires upon the death of her spouse. Who knew.
The author’s own experience begins with a first trip to the Department of Motor vehicles in Kansas to register their new address, get a new Kansas driver’s license and register to vote.
Armed with a vast array of identification proving citizenship and ID many times over, photo ID, signature, proof of residence, this person thought they could accomplish the mission. The documents included their social security card and last statement, passport, birth certificate, credit cards, debit cards, and Military Photo ID.
As they tell it:
The items I used to verify my new address were not accepted because, as the clerk explained, “I have you listed at an address in Chicago and one in Maryland.”
The lesson from this? Owning property in more than one state can be a hazard to your voting rights – unless you’re the Former Governor of Massachusetts and presumed Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney.
According to the Guardian
Meanwhile, Romney appears to have escaped relatively unsinged from the apparently unrelated revelation that he may have committed voter fraud in January 2010, when – despite not owning a house in Massachusetts and having given every appearance of having moved to California – he registered and voted in the Massachusetts special election to replace the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy. Given the GOP’s ongoing use of the “voter fraud” fable to justify modern Jim Crow laws and its highly-publicized persecution of the voter registration group Acorn, an actual case of felony voter fraud committed by the Republican nominee could have been a big story – but Romney was able to tamp down the flames by claiming, not very credibly but also not disprovably, that he and Ann actually were living in their son Tagg’s Belmont, Massachusetts basement in 2010.
Unlike Romney, the author did own several properties, but was not claiming several residencies. The author, however, was unable to register their change of address, get a Kansas driver’s license or their voter registration.
The author returned to the DMV in a second attempt to register their address, get a new driver’s license and register to vote.
I rifled through my documents looking for something acceptable, when the clerk suddenly said, “Oh, I can accept this.” She picked up an unopened letter from my bank and though it was clearly postmarked, SHE OPENED IT! “I have to verify that there has been activity in the last three months.”
Alas, the author did get a new driver’s license and thought they were registered to vote. Of course, that would make things too easy.
After waiting a couple of months without receiving a voter registration card, the author examined the registration, which was printed out at the same time as their new driver’s license. The problem? The registration somehow printed out without printing their first name and middle initial.
The lesson from this is to check the final printed documents to make sure the information is actually printed on them and that information is correct. As the author pointed out, there are people who may not check and will be turned away at the polls. Don’t let that happen to you.
Upon discovering the problem, the author went to the County Clerk’s office where the clerk complained about having to fix errors made by the DMV.
To date, the author does not have a voter registration card.
I decided to check out Kansas’ on line information about voter ID. The site: gotvoterid.com states how “easy” the Kansas’ voter ID law is. All you need is a Kansas ID or a Passport.
Just for kicks, I checked out the Kansas Secretary of State’s website, which claims that you can register to vote on line or fill out this simple form to register in person.
According to the voter registration information on the site, the author SHOULD have been able to register to vote with the Social Security Number.
Enter your current Kansas driver’s license number or nondriver’s identification card number. If you do not have either one, enter the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Ironically, the author had sufficient ID to vote in Kansas, though apparently not to register. I’m not kidding.
Here is what gotvoterid.com says about Valid forms of ID in Kansas.
Valid Forms of Photographic Identification
Starting January 1, 2012, Kansas voters must show photographic identification when casting a vote in person. If the photo ID has an expiration date on it, the ID must not have expired at the time of voting. An acceptable photo ID does not have to have an expiration date on the document in order to be valid. Persons age 65 or older may use expired photo ID documents. Acceptable forms of photo ID are:
- A driver’s license or nondriver’s identification card issued by Kansas or by another state or district of the United States
- A concealed carry of handgun license issued by Kansas or a concealed carry of handgun or weapon license issued by another state or district of the United States
- A United States passport
- An employee badge or identification document issued by a municipal, county, state, or federal government office
- A military identification document issued by the United States
- A student identification card issued by an accredited postsecondary institution of education in the state of Kansas
- A public assistance identification card issued by a municipal, county, state or federal government office
- An identification card issued by an Indian tribe
Getting the ID needed to vote is not only an endurance test in Kansas. According to foldingBicycleFollow‘s account in their Daily Kos diary, the process in Pennsylvania is confusing. Like the person in Kansas, this individual recently moved to Pennsylvania. Like the person in Kansas, they went to the DMV to get an instate drivers’ license, in order to have the ID needed for voting.
The person was unaware that they needed to pay for the license with a money order or a check. In fact, I checked the DMV website where one would think that all the necessary information about fees and accepted methods of payment are on the same page. But that too, would make things too easy.
In fact, the acceptable methods of payment are found at a different link. The fact that you need to look at the methods of payment page is not apparent on the fee’s page.
As an alternative the person sought, but was denied, a free voter ID because they had a valid out of state driver’s license. Of course, the out of state driver’s license isn’t valid ID for voting in Pennsylvania.
These are not the only examples of the problems that arise when seeking the Free ID. 866ourvote.org shows countless stories to prove that getting free ID is anything but easy. Moreover, as the writer at Daily Kos found out, you might not be eligible for free ID. Getting the other forms of ID takes time and money, as shown by the writer in Kansas, both of which are at a premium for many Americans.
It takes more time and more money if you don’t have a birth certificate, or if you moved from one state to another. Even if you moved within your state, the rules are state specific.
If you have been convicted of a felony, the rules about your eligibility to vote vary from state to state.
Seemingly, simple and straightforward requirements, such as residency, can be confusing because the definition of “residency” varies from state to state.
All of this was designed to create confusion and frustration, with the hope that out of lack of resources or sheer frustration; voters will just give up and forgo their vote.
There is nothing about this that jives with the claim voter ID is needed to protect American voters, as the DMV clerk in Kansas put it:
from “all these bad illegals who are taking advantage of us all and have made it bad for everybody.”
I prefer to put the blame where it truly belongs: with a Republican Party that is using the myth of voter fraud to establish poll taxes. Republicans working to reinstate Jim Crow as an election strategy are responsible for this morass. I blame Republicans who suppress the vote in the name of delivering “their” state to the Romney campaign.
Image from solicitor general
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.