Wisconsin Couple Unable to get ID to Vote

Wisconsin Couple Unable to get ID to Vote

John Wolfe and Rita Platt

UPDATE: MSNBC used our videoproduction Watch MSNBC HERE!!!


 UPDATE #2: March 6, a Dane County Judge placed a temporary restraining order on the Voter ID bill, calling it the “single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the United States.  Local elections all over the state on April 3, 2012 operated under the previous law.  A second judge placed a permanent injunction on the law.  A trial on whether to grant a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 16.  This issue is expected to reach the WI Supreme Court.



Now that photo ID’s are required for voting in Wisconsin, Jennifer “Rita” Platt and John Wolfe drove 45 minutes from Osceola to the nearest Dept. of Motor Vehicles office in Hudson, only to be turned away. Governor Walker and state Republicans recently passed the “Voter Photo ID Law”, or Act 23, which has many Wisconsinites scrambling.  Rita and John brought social security cards, current pay stubs, and driver’s licenses from Iowa, but it wasn’t enough.  They need to pay for certified birth certificates, and wait for them to arrive in the mail, in order to secure a free Wisconsin ID card issued for voting.  To complicate matters further for the couple, the computers at the DMV were down and unable to process their request. 

 Here’s their story.


Rita:  On November 23 (2011), John and I drove down the day before Thanksgiving, because we were both lucky enough to have the day off … hoping to get our Wisconsin driver’s licenses.  It is a long haul down to the DMV, and it takes some time at the DMV, and it is a long haul back up, so we wanted to do it on a day when we didn’t have work.

So, as soon as we got there another customer told us that the computers were down and that he’d been there all morning.  We must’ve gotten there sometime around 10 or 11:00 am, and he said he’d been there since it opened [8:00]. And so we thought (Hugh…rolled eyes), “What a bummer!  The one day we could come here the computers are down and we can’t get our licenses.”  Then, the gals behind the counter encouraged us to get our paperwork filled out, in the hopes that when we were finished the computers would be up and running.

So, we filled out the paperwork, and the gal asked for my identification.  I gave her my expired Iowa state driver’s license. [Rita and John moved to WI 18 months ago]  And I gave her my pay stub for my school district in St. Croix Falls, where I teach.  She said these didn’t count as proof of identification and that I needed either a certified birth certificate or a passport, neither of which I had.  Then, I asked her if I could, at least, get a voter ID, since I’d like to vote in the next election.  She said, “No.”  I couldn’t get that either because I’d need either a certified birth certificate or a valid passport to get a voter I.D., as well.

Finally, I told her that I’d previously been a Wisconsin resident (from the mid ‘80’s – mid 90’s) and that I’d had a driver’s license at that time.  Then, she said, “Oh, if you’ve already had a Wisconsin driver’s license, then you can get a new one and you don’t need the other proof.”  So, she got on the computer…which, I still don’t understand because she said it was down, but she was able to find some information on the computer about me.…She was able to see my old license on the screen but for some reason she couldn’t see enough information for it to count.  So, at that point I knew that there was no chance to get a license or voter I.D.

I was super, super frustrated at that point.  And, um, and you know, I’d watched John struggle to get his, too, and also be denied.  So, we left, and that was the end of the story for that day.

John: … fair enough, computers go down…but I went in there with a current Iowa driver’s license, social security card, proof of residency here – a bank statement, and a pay stub.  They said, “No, that doesn’t count as proof of your identity.” They also said that I had no proof that I was a United States citizen, because all a social security card says is that at some point I was allowed to work here.  So, you know, it is hard in that situation to not want to argue with the women that are working there.  But at the same time you realize that they are just employees.


What is your plan now?  Do you still plan on getting your licenses or IDs?

Rita: Well, I’m really lucky because I know that I will get my driver’s license before the next election.   I have a computer, so I went on to find out how to get a certified birth certificate.  I’m from California, so I have to fill out some online paperwork and pay $26 and wait for it to come.  Then, the next time I go back it will have to be a day off work.  So, that will be lost income, and then to spend the gas down and back the second time, with gas being close to $4 a gallon.  Altogether, that is a ton of money.  There are a couple of other DMV centers that are 30 minutes away, but they are only open 1-2 afternoons per month and only open during my working hours.

John: I was born in Arlington,Virginia and it’s going to take somewhere between $20 and $30 to order a certified birth certificate.  But I’m one of the lucky ones.  I can take the time off work.  I can have some flex time, and I have a pretty good salary.  I have a reliable car.  I can do all of this, and I will.  But what worries me is that this is a law that will cause many people not to vote.  I value democracy, and I want my fellow citizens to vote.

[According to UW Milwaukee, School of Continuing Education, Employment & Training Institute: Minorities and poor populations are the most likely to have drivers license problems. Less than half (47 percent) of Milwaukee County African American adults and 43 percent of Hispanic adults have a valid drivers license …The situation for young adults ages 18-24 is even worse — with only 26 percent of African Americans and 34 percent of Hispanics in Milwaukee County with a valid license compared to 71 percent of young white adults in the Balance of State…. An estimated 23 percent of persons aged 65 and over do not have a Wisconsin drivers license or a photo ID. The population of elderly persons 65 and older without a driver’s license or a state photo ID totals 177,399 and of these 70 percent are women.”]


What has been your experience voting in other states?

 Rita: I was living in Wisconsin for my first election, at 18, and I’ve voted in every election.  I love adventure and travel, so I’ve lived in a lot of different states.  I’ve voted in 5 different states and overseas.   This is the first I’ve ever had any trouble.  I’ve lived in rural Eskimo villages on the Bering Sea coast, and I’ve voted overseas in Thailand.  No problem.  Now, here I am in Wisconsin raising my kids in theMidwest, with values that are so close to my own, and this is the first time I’ve had any trouble trying to vote. I’ve never missed a single election, and I certainly didn’t want to miss the coming election (special election for the recall of Gov. Scott Walker).

It is sad to say, and I’m certainly not a conspiracy theorist, in general, but it does seem a bit suspicious to me that this Voter ID law came up now, when our state is very divided and there is a lot anger.  Here we have this law that has the potential to disenfranchise an incredible number of voters.  You look at the statistics and this will affect a huge number of African American and Latino voters.  It seems politically motivated.

 John: I’ve lived in Iowa, Illinois, Arizona, Japan, and Switzerland.  Any other place I’ve been, any other state, any other country, it was fairly simple to vote with some documentation, and now, suddenly, I was stopped cold.

There seems to be a double standard.  You have these legislators who claim that we need this law to protect valid democracy.  And yet depriving someone by setting up conditions that make it difficult to vote, for someone who has a right to vote, means a vote has not been counted.  And that is a blow at the democratic process just as much as permitting someone to vote who shouldn’t be allowed to.  Yet, I don’t see the Republican legislators wringing their hands and panicking over the fact that 100 or 1000 people who should be voting are not going to vote.  You know, where is their concern for the validity for the voting process then?


I called the Hudson DMV for comment.  A woman named Joyce verified that the computers were down on the day that John and Rita attempted to obtain I.D.’s.  She acknowledged that, “Every once in a while that happens.  Then, we usually tell them to come back another day or call back later in the day to see if they are back up.”  I asked if this problem was something unique to the Hudson DMV or if this was a statewide occurrence.  The response, “It happens throughout the state.” 

 In 2008, the GAB reported 6 cases alleging voter fraud.  Yet, hearing the extraordinary efforts that one couple is taking to cast 2 votes, one wonders how many voters the law, itself, will disenfranchise?  Voters must now navigate through technical difficulties, new requirements, and financial obligations.  As evidenced with John and Rita, potential voters without IDs need to be finanicially secure enough to have internet research options, gas money for trips to the DMV, time off work, and hard cash to pay for certified birth certificates.  Thousands of  Wisconsinites share their predicament.  John and Rita say, “We are the lucky ones.”  How many will not be so lucky?



Rita Platt is now part of the NAACP lawsuit challenging the Voter ID Law.  Watch HERE.  This story has just gotten broader national attention with Al Sharpton on MSNBC, watch HERE.

55 Responsesto “Wisconsin Couple Unable to get ID to Vote”

  1. Amazing the number of trolls out here exporting their erroneous ideologies on Voter Fraud and the nonsensical need for Voter ID laws…I’m glad the ACLU of Wisconsin has set up such a strong case.

  2. Celeste Koeberl says:

    Judge Niess’ “Decision and Order Granting Summary Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction” may be read at http://media.jsonline.com/documents/voteridruling.pdf

  3. Celeste Koeberl says:

    “A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people,” Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote. “It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution. This is precisely what 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 does with its photo ID mandates.”

    Niess’ eight-page ruling goes further than the one issued by another judge last week because it permanently invalidates the law for violating the state constitution. See, “Judge rules Wisconsin’s voter ID law unconstitutional”, 3/12/12, at http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/ruling-expected-monday-in-second-voter-id-case-c44hifo-142307425.html

  4. Celeste Koeberl says:

    “A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people,” Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote. “It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution. This is precisely what 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 does with its photo ID mandates.”

    Niess’ eight-page ruling goes further than the one issued by another judge last week because it permanently invalidates the law for violating the state constitution. See, “Judge rules Wisconsin’s voter ID law unconstitutional”, 3/12/12 at http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/ruling-expected-monday-in-second-voter-id-case-c44hifo-142307425.html

  5. Teresa Topping says:

    Why is showing an ID so repulsive to some of you folks? We have to show ID to get a prescription, to make a withdrawel at the bank, to drive a car, to register at school … what is so differnt from voting with the exception that voting can have long term affects.

    According to two articles I read, there are many IDs that will work and elderly, domestic violence victoms and police are exempt. And the DoT gives out free IDs.

    Come on, how many people are REALLY affected? Only those that do not drive would not have a drivers license. Most of those would have a state ID. Out of the ones that are left, how many would really vote?

  6. John Kysylyczyn says:

    You people crack me up. I’m just so amazed how some people find it so difficult to get a drivers license within a reasonable time frame. How do these people file their taxes on time? Oh yeah, that’s right, they probably file on time because they expect a refund. Maybe if we paid people to get drivers licenses on time, they might get it done sooner than 18 months! LOL

  7. Pierre de Plume says:

    I could spend the next 15 minutes of my evening responding point by point to Celeste, but frankly there is no point.

    Mr. Kysylyczyn: I’m glad to see you concede that Ms. Koeberl is indeed correct.

  8. John Kysylyczyn says:

    I could spend the next 15 minutes of my evening responding point by point to Celeste, but frankly there is no point. Let’s get back to my first point in one of my first posting where I said that if you want a good test case to take to court, this is not it.

    I think the first paragraph of the article says it all…

    They had an Iowa drivers license for 18 months while living in Wisconsin! Are you kidding me? They feel that their rights have been infringed upon?

    I had a friend who worked at WI Dells. Lived there for a few weeks, had her paycheck sent to her apt she rented. She also had an SS card. Had a MN DL and MN plates on her car. Was she a resident? No. She had no intention of being a WI resident.

    Like I said previously, find me a case where a longtime resident, without any funny business in their background, gets turned down for an ID on a day that the computers are actually working, and then you will get sympathy from a majority of citizens.

  9. Celeste Koeberl says:

    John Kysylyczyn:

    Your comments continue to be off-point, and misleading.

    First, you asserted without any substantiation that the interviewees drove vehicles registered in a state other than Wisconsin when you wrote in your comments: “My guess is that they also have been using out of state license plates . . . ” This is a claim you made up, not something found in the interview, and repeating your speculation does not substantiate it.

    Second, you claimed that the legal question of whether the interviewees met the residency requirements for voting in Wisconsin elections had not been answered; however, review of the minimum residency requirements stated in Wisconsin law (28 days, see http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters/registration-voting), review of the list of acceptable proofs of residency specified by the state of Wisconsin (pay stub and/or bank statement, see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/doc/proof-resident.htm), and the text of the interview (interviewee presented pay stub and bank statement) show that the interviewee met the required standard for proof of residence for voting purposes.

    Third, you then stated a false generalization regarding my comment rebutting your invented issue of motor vehicle licensing and your incorrect conclusion about the interviewees residence status for voting purposes, and you proceeded to comment on an argument you made up but attributed to me. Desist from this silly practice.

    Wisconsin Department of Transportation employees are obligated to follow Wisconsin statutes, administrative regulations, and officially adopted procedures; it is not proper for any state employee to invent rules or procedures on the fly.

    For the reference of both state employees and the public, various state of Wisconsin websites list which documents the state of Wisconsin has defined as acceptable proofs for which purposes (proofs of U.S. citizenship, name and date of birth, identity, or Wisconsin residency) when a person applies for a driver license or state ID card (see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/docs/bds316-english.pdf; http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/idcard.htm; http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/photo-id).

    According to the information on state of Wisconsin websites, documents that may be acceptable proofs for one purpose are not necessarily acceptable proofs for another purpose. For example:
    Pay stubs and/or bank statements are acceptable as proof of residency (see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/doc/proof-resident.htm).
    However, pay stubs and/or bank statements are not acceptable as proof of identity, but a valid or expired less than 8 years WI or out-of-state driver license with a photo is acceptable proof of identity, as is a social security card (see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/doc/proof-identity.htm).
    A certified birth certificate or valid U.S. passport is acceptable proof of citizenship, but according to the WI/DOT website a person is only required to provide proof of citizenship when applying for a FIRST Wisconsin driver license or state ID (see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/doc/proof-legal.htm).
    Also according to the WI/DOT website, proof of name and date of birth also is required when applying for a FIRST Wisconsin driver license or ID card, and a certified birth certificate or valid passport also is sufficient for this proof.

    The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board is conducting an educational campaign about Act 23 precisely because the requirements for obtaining an acceptable voter photo ID are confusing to otherwise eligible Wisconsin voters, and it will take some time for many otherwise eligible voters to acquire the acceptable documents required in order to apply for a Wisconsin driver license or state ID if they do not already have one (see http://gab.wi.gov/node/1593; http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/state-plans-ad-campaign-to-educate-voters-about-new-id/article_2ec506be-2422-11e1-b267-001871e3ce6c.html).

  10. John Kysylyczyn says:

    Celeste thinks that my comments are off point. Let me briefly explain why they are not.

    It appears that these people were driving vehicles registered out of state and they had drivers licenses that were out of state. Celeste claims that they presented proper proof in the form of pay stubs or bank statements claiming that they were indeed residents and therefore were eligible to vote.

    I believe that it is incorrect to claim that if someone meets the test of one part of the law, that you completely ignore everything else. That is the argument that Celeste is trying to make. When you are a government employee and someone is asking for verification that they are a resident, you have an obligation to look at all the information that is available.

    So a person claims they are a resident by providing a pay stub or bank statement, but DMV records show otherwise? Does that mean that you issue an ID on the spot? No. You need to do additional research when you encounter a situation like this. I hope that every DMV employee makes that extra effort. I could have my bank statements and a pay stub go to any address that I ask my bank or employer to send them to.

    If all the information the DMV has lines up, then excellent, If there are serious conflicts, like in this case, then you don’t error on the side of giving them the identification. That is downright dangerous.

  11. Celeste Koeberl says:

    John Kysylyczyn:

    Your comments are off-point. For example:

    You invented an irrelevant issue and questions regarding the state of registration for any vehicle that may be driven by the interviewees when you wrote “My guess is that they also have been using out of state license plates . . . ” Whether a person owns any motor vehicle licensed in any state, or drives any vehicle licensed in any state, does not determine whether that person qualifies as eligible to vote in Wisconsin elections.

    The interviewees presented the required proof that they were residents of Wisconsin for the purpose of voting when they presented pay stubs and/or bank statements (see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/doc/proof-resident.htm). Under Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law (Act 28), the residency requirement for the purpose of qualifying to vote in a Wisconsin election now is that the person be a resident of the voting district for 28 consecutive days before the election (see http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters/registration-voting).

  12. Heidi Herron says:

    The Obama adminstration has just spoken to Voter ID issue (not this couple) in this news release:


  13. John Kysylyczyn says:

    Actually it is directly related to the issue. Are these people actually residents of Wisconsin? That is a legal question that no one seems to be able to answer.

    It appears that they own a home in Wisconsin. It appears that they have lived in the state for a short time. They have drivers licenses in other states and vehicles registered in other states? Do they have homes in these other states? Are they registered to vote in these other states? Are they convicted felons? We have no information.

    I have people in my neighborhood who live in Florida for half the year. They claim Florida as their residence because of lower taxes, and they have Florida driver’s licenses and license plates. They live there for 6 months and 1 day every year. They have owned homes in both states for years.

    If I worked at the DMV, I would raise these questions. I find it really fishy to have two people from out of state, driving a car with out of state plates, walk in and ask to register to vote.

    For those opposed to voter id, you need to find a better test case. Find someone who is a longtime resident of the state who could not get the proper id to vote. For example, my mom doesn’t drive. If she were to go down there to get an id and they gave her a hard time, then you have a good test case and a good story.

    You are correct that the constitution does not require you to have a WI driver’s license or have WI plates in order to vote. It requires citizenship and residency in the state. Typically you are not a resident of the state when you have a driver’s license and plates from a different state.

  14. Celeste Koeberl says:

    John Kysylyczyn: Your assertions that these eligible WI voters may have driven on WI roads without WI driver’s licenses are irrelevant to this article. Neither the WI Constitution nor WI Statutes require an otherwise eligible WI voter to also be a WI licensed driver or to also have any motor vehicle licensed in WI in order to vote in WI elections.

  15. Heidi Herron says:

    This story has just gone national on MSNBC. WI Voices video and story was used for this piece.


  16. Heidi Herron says:

    Rita is now a part the NAACP lawsuit challenging the Voter ID law. Watch here:


  17. John Kysylyczyn says:

    The nice thing about WI elections is that they occur at different times than MN elections. Gives me year-round work.

  18. John Kysylyczyn says:

    I work on campaigns in Wisconsin also. I’m not that far from the border. Also remember when MN residents used to register their vehicles at their WI cabins to avoid taxes? That finally ended when MN lowered their license plate fees. PS. The guys in Anoka lost that election several times and weren’t too happy with me.

  19. Pierre de Plume says:

    @ John Kysylyczyn:

    Is this you?

    and is this you, too?

    If so, the website “Linked In” indicates you’re a media and political consultant from Minnesota. Have things become so hot for you that you’ve had to go trolling in Wisconsin?

  20. John Kysylyczyn says:

    Both of these people should be written tickets for taking up residency in another state and failing to renew their driver’s licenses. They are not heroes, they are law breakers.

    For those who defend them, keep in mind that failing to transfer your driver’s license is tax evasion. The fee we pay for our driver’s license is not 100% used for the issuance of the card. Some of that goes into state funds.

    My guess is that they also have been using out of state license plates too. That is also tax evasion.

  21. Angela says:

    AngNu: if there was a like button I would click it!

  22. AngNu says:

    I want to see a geniune story about someone that does ont have a valid WI license or State ID and needs to get a Voters ID but cannot afford a birth certificate.
    In todays age everyone should have a copy of their bc handy. You need it to: get a drivers license or state id, open a bank account, cash a check, pick up medication at a pharmacy, I’ve had to show a valid ID at the doctors office, purchase certain items, even to return certain items, go into certain businesses and events, apply for social security, get car insurance, get a job (I’ve had to show a valid State ID or DR license at all jobs I’ve held), I’m sure you even need a valid photo id to apply for state benefits, which would mean someone that has no means to pay $20 probably already has an ID.
    What other scenerios is there where someone may not have either a valid WI Lic or WI ID but cannot afford it? Other then the elderly who were born at home and not issued a birth certificate, I do feel bad for them especially the ones that have voted all their life, however I would hope that something can be done to fix that issue.
    In my opinion having to purchase a birth certificate is not a poll tax, you are receceiving something for your money, generally a tax is money paid to a governement, however in this case you are receiving a birth certificate, which is going to be used for other things besides voting.
    To me this story is a joke, if you want compassion about not being able to vote, give me a geniune story, not a couple who did not take the time to research what they needed then want to cry how it is all about the voters id issue!

  23. peter freyholtz says:

    I call bs as well, give them a ticket for not getting there DL in the alloted time. 2nd both amery and new richnond have DMV and are 10 miles closer. 3rd, eveybody knows you should have a certified Birth cert avail. for just these types of things. grow up, quit whining and move on with your life.

  24. Pierre de Plume says:

    I forgot to mention this: Eventually, some of the people who’ve criticized John and Rita will encounter a similar bureaucratic problem — maybe not over voter ID but something. And when it does, I bet all hell will break loose.

  25. Pierre de Plume says:

    I’m sorry to learn that John and Rita are having such a difficult time. I’m also angry with those commenters who’ve criticized John and Rita by arguing points — no matter how small — simply because they oppose the recall of Gov. Walker. In my view, these commenters are being childish.

    The fact is that voter fraud has never been a significant problem in this country. And it’s also a fact that restrictive voter ID laws tend to disenfranchise significant blocks of voters for no other reason than politics. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck. . . .

  26. Celeste Koeberl says:

    From “Wisconsin Voter ID Law Faces Court Challenge” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/20/wisconsins-voter-id-law-court_n_1022484.html:

    The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court on Thursday. Lester Pines, an attorney with the firm Cullen Weston Pines & Bach who is working on the case, explained that their argument against the voter ID law The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court on Thursday. Lester Pines, an attorney with the firm Cullen Weston Pines & Bach who is working on the case, explained that their argument against the voter ID law is quite simple: It violates the provision in the Wisconsin constitution’s that determines who can vote.

    “The Wisconsin Constitution only allows the legislature to exclude the two named classes from voting — felons and people ruled incompetent,” he said in a statement. “The new law creates a third class of citizens who may not vote — people who do not have ID. This lawsuit challenges the legislature’s authority to enact such a law.”

  27. Angela says:

    First of all having a certified copy of your birth certificate is just a good idea and second of all it is nothing new that it is required. I wonder who they would complain to if they decided to get married and needed to show a birth certificate? I say wah wah wah to these people and maybe since they waited so long they should have done it when gas prices were lower. And it isn’t like getting a certificate is expensive. Geesh move on it is for your own good!


    And those of you who are crying about taxpayer burdens…think about what it is costing taxpayers in the recall efforts. Thanks for making me re-vote, I’m not appreciating it!

  28. Geno says:

    Give John and Rita the credit they deserve for wanting to jump through all the hoops that stand in their way so they can vote. The “hoops” are all added cost and inconvenience that should not be in anyone’s way for voting. It’s amazing how the Repukelicans keep yelling about smaller, less government and less regulations, then pile on more rules and requirements to be able to vote.

  29. Really? says:

    According to Rita’s responses on twincities.com’s coverage on this story, John had a valid Iowa license. They moved to WI 18 months ago. That means John has been driving illegally for 16 months, because you need to get a new WI ID 60 DAYS AFTER MOVING HERE. Go look on the dmv website.

    In addition, look online at the DMV website and it states you need a birth certificate. Would of thought that a librarian was capable of doing her homework ahead of time.

  30. stuart says:

    Finally somebody gets it!

  31. Anne Peterson says:

    Getting your birth certificate should be paid for by the state of WI if it’s a requirement to vote or else it’s a tax…right? So is this going to be yet another cost/burden that Walker is putting on the taxpayers of WI???

  32. stuart says:

    Why didn’t these people get there license before? They have lived here 18 months. By law they should have had it taken care of 12 months ago. They drive here illegally for over a year and then get mad because things don’t go there way. If this would have been two years ago they still would have needed a birth certificate. That is nothing new.

  33. MadisonMom says:

    A point regarding birth certificates–after 9/11, the process of printing and certifying birth certificates changed. This means that if you have a birth certificate printed prior that the early 2000s, it’s not “official.” We just had this issue arise in our family when we discovered my husband’s birthday was wrong on his social security record. Even though he had the original certificate, issued by the state, that his mother received after his birth, he had to order a new “certificated” birth certificate in order to prove his identity for the social security office in Madison. Thus these folks may have had earlier copies of their birth certificate, but they wouldn’t count.

    This law, and similar voter ID laws, are simply new tools of disenfranchisement. As other comments have pointed out, they violate the Voting Rights Act and need to be ended.

  34. MrsRaptor says:

    Speaking from experience, there are many reasons someone would have had a birth certificate and no longer have it. When I obtained my passport I had to mail a certified copy of my birth certificate, a certified copy of my divorce decree, 2 photos and the money to pay for it along with my application. I NEVER got anything back other than the passport even though we are told the documents “will be returned with your passport.” Of course the Social Security administration says the same thing and never returns documents either so it appears to be par for the course for federal agencies to lie to people.

    Next, according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as amended) it is illegal to change laws which pertain to voting where those charges amount to a poll tax. In this particular instance, since people must PAY FOR certified documents, it has the effect of a poll tax and I am positive the courts will agree with me.

    Other states have ID requirements which are nowhere near as restrictive as those in WI and their citizens only have to fill out paperwork to vote when they register OR when they do not have photo ID with them. The rest of the time their driver’s license/ID card or passport card are run through something similar to a credit card machine and a ballot is handed to them.

    I can see both sides… and as an election official I have to tell you what is being done in WI will NEVER fly in a federal court specifically because it DOES violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as amended) and as such will NEVER stand up to a challenge in federal court.

  35. AccentJim says:

    Remember that voting is NOT a privilege; it’s a right. Even people who are unplugged from the modern world – computers, internet, bank accounts – should have the right to vote. Poverty or living style or location shouldn’t be used against people for the basic rights of citizens.

  36. Mary Mullen says:

    The more hoops people have to jump through, the fewer will get ID and vote. That’s the bottom line.

    Now, not only must a person be a qualified elector – age 18, a citizen, not a felon still “on paper,” resident for 28 days or longer at their current address – but that person who doesn’t have a Wisconsin driver’s license already must come up with a costly birth certificate that may take weeks to get, find their way to a DMV location that may be open only a few hours a month and may be distant from their home, bring all the other necessary paperwork, and hope the DMV computers will be working.

    Whenever there’s a change in the rules, it will take a while for people to understand exactly what paperwork and proof they have to bring with them no matter what social or economic level they might be on.

    Why are people suddenly so afraid that unauthorized people will vote? My experience, living next to an area with many poor people, is that even before these requirements, only small percentages of these people came to the polls. Now the few that ordinarily did vote and who don’t have Wisconsin licenses may not be able to get things together to get an ID. Those who never voted before will simply be turned away because it takes weeks to get everything together if a birth certificate is involved. Remember, also, it must be a certified birth certificate.

    Lack of money, lack of a car, the fact that they are doing everything just to survive and may be demoralized, the fact that it’s hard to find out exactly how to do things without an Internet-connected computer – perhaps way beyond their financial reach – and they must be computer literate as well, and the fact that the requirement show lists of things that are acceptable and not acceptable, will all conspire to disenfranchise them. Think especially of a first-time voters, young people, who don’t know their way around government bureaucracy.

    Most of the people quibbling with the story of this couple probably can’t imagine themselves in a similar situation. I wonder why? Did every one of you do everything “right” your entire life or have people around you who covered for you when you didn’t or took you by the hand when you needed help?

    It takes a tremendous amount of energy and time to get every last detail of this paperwork completed to get a driver’s license or voter ID if you don’t already have one. It seems to me that only those with extraordinary energy, time, patience, commitment, and money will be getting their ID and voting in the coming election.

    Compassion and a commitment to democracy is what is missing from many of these posts.

  37. Celeste Koeberl says:

    FYI, because so many eligible voters do not yet understand how the new Wisconsin requirement to present an acceptable photo ID in order to vote will affect them, and because there is not yet an integrated and comprehensive single official source where eligible voters can learn what is required in order to obtain an acceptable photo ID for voting in Wisconsin, the Government Accountability Board (GAB) is working to create a new website, print ads, billboards, brochures, a toll-free hotline, and TV and radio ads to better inform eligible voters (see, “State plans ad campaign to educate voters about new ID law”, 12/11/11, at http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/state-plans-ad-campaign-to-educate-voters-about-new-id/article_2ec506be-2422-11e1-b267-001871e3ce6c.html).

    Now, information regarding what documents may be acceptable for proof of the requirements that must be met in order for an eligible voter to get either a state ID for voting purposes or a driver license is posted on various pages at the GAB or Department of Transportation (WisDOT) websites; but, in my experience, it certainly does take quite some time and tenacity on the part of the person trying to find this information to discover all the relevant information on the various GAB and WisDOT webpages and then integrate all the information into a useful list of the acceptable documents that may be used for proof that an eligible voter meets the requirements.

  38. On Wisconsin! says:

    The “point” is that exaggerated claims or complete fabrications do nothing to promote sympathy or further a cause. Both of the people cited in the article indicated that not only did they not have the certified birth certificates “in hand” when going to the DMV, but that neither of them had any possession of them in the first place. I doubt that statement. They have had passports in the past, and they would have needed the certificates during that application process…

    That fact,compiled with the other “woe is me” lines, leave this couple looking more like unprepared whiners than disenfranchised voters…

  39. John says:

    Are you sure that these people were not over seas in the military? No passport needed their.
    Do you have a certified copy of your birth certificate that you carry with you?
    I’m sure these people did not think that they would be asked to produce a certified copy of their birth certificates at their age. Surprised that they weren’t asked to provide a certified copy of their marriage license too.
    You are missing the point of this story. These people are not the only Wisconsinites’ having to jump through hoops and spend unexpected money to produce these special documents. Voteing is not to be legislated like this!
    Nice way to say “Welcome to Wisconsin”!

  40. Jen Torres says:

    Issues here too. Hubby paid a late ticket, and went to dmv to renew his license which expired on his bday. We’ve made 3 dmv trips, where they finally told us they have no record of payment in their system (nearly 2 weeks after we paid) as they have to wait for madison to update the info. They said they need written proof from milwaukee court (we moved from mke to racine recently) so hubby took off work and made the drive. Went to downtown court, who told him they can see on screen its paid, but legally cant give printouts. Same thing when he went to police station and citation service center. No paper per policy. Back again to racine dmv, unable to renew license withoit the elusive paper. (We finally received a letter TODAY.)
    I cant imagine what someone with lessee means would go through to get their id, especially if they heaven forbid have citations and are trying to take care of them.
    Its a catch 22.

  41. Jennifer says:

    Hubby had a similar problem. Paid a past due ticket so we could renew his license, which expired on his birthday. Ticket has been paid (online) but even after waiting nearly 2 weeks, on our 3rd visit, DMV said they need record of the payment from madison and its not yet in their system, and that we could go to milwaukee court to get PAPER proof. Made the drive ro

  42. What is even sadder is some of our elderly have never had a birth certificate. They were born at home with mid wives and the birth was never documented. Years ago my father had this kind of issue getting his social security because of no birth documentation.

  43. I’m sure they had a passport. But just like you driver’s license they expired.

  44. David Laird says:

    Since getting a DL and registering to vote is so complicated, they may as well get a U.S. passport while they are at it. Meanwhile, they can help lobby to have Act 23 ammended or repealed.

  45. Sheri says:

    This is why the RECALL is SO important. This will be just the tip of the iceberg for citizens in Wisconsin if continue.

  46. Ryan says:

    First of all saying that there were only six cases of voter fraud is like saying because only six speeding tickets were issued nobody else speeds. Secondly I get a kick out of all the talk about the problem with no real talk about a solution. The way we vote is prehistoric in comparison to the world we live in. I vote in a township and I could point at any random name or address when I walk into that town hall with out having to show any form of identification. A mature looking 16 year old could go and vote in place of a neighbor that he knows is either not going to vote or is out of town and the volunteers that work there would never know. With technology that is available today to continue to vote the way we do is a joke. As for the story above isn’t it illegal to not have a valid address on your Drivers License let alone to not have license for the state you live in. Isn’t that one of the first things you would do when you move to a new state. I am teacher and when I moved for my job I made sure to do all of those things before I started working in the fall. Wouldn’t they had to have gone through this whole process regardless if they wanted to vote or not. I fail to see why this is a Voter ID issue. It sounds like their gripe is with the DMV and their dotting of the i’s and crossing of their t’s to make sure they get licenses to legal citizens. I think procedure took over for common sense of a clerk at a DMV window after 9/11.

  47. sharon says:

    The Justice Department just ruled against Texas State voter ID laws.The right to vote is a civil right and we have laws against depriving people of their civil rights. Having to purchase a birth certificate to obtain voter ID amounts to a poll tax which is illegal.
    Time for some attorney action. Computers being down at the DMV is just way to convenient. I would like to know how many incidences of computer malfunction have occurred since this requirement was passed compared to before the new “law”. I would also like to know what the state intends to do to remedy this problem.
    It is time to stand up judicially against this id law and call it what it is: a
    disenfranchisement law.
    Video tape your experience at the dmv if you have the equipment or take someone with you who has a phone with video capabilities. All of these incidences need to be documented.

  48. Amull0908 says:

    Ok, how about that they lived in WI for 180 days and should’ve gotten their drivers license renewed within 60. If moving to a different state I would also think you would look to see what the requirments are prior to driving that far, especially if it was a hardship so it wasn’t a waste of time. Look up the requirments to get a new WI drivers license, you need certain documents. So really, the money and time these people have spent they would’ve spent regardless, just to renew their license. This not really about them wanting to vote, they needed to renew their license and could not so they THEN wanted a voters id, which if you look at the requiprements on the WI DMV site, you also need certain documents, which they did not have. At this time someone decide their story would be a good way to show how difficult it is to get a voters id. Sorry, I don’t see this story qualifying.

  49. Lisa says:

    Hey “On Wisconsin!”,

    Actually gas prices were more like $3.40 a gallon in WI that weekend. Including wear and tear on the vehicle it’s bumping closer to the mark. Why must you “win” this argument? This is an example of average citizens attempting to obtain identification as an example to show how much more difficult/ down right impossible it will be for so many less fortunate state residents to obtain their own i.d.’s Clearly you live a rosy life in a rosy world and could care less whether your fellow tax-paying citizens are disenfranchised.

  50. Kabes says:

    Not sure which is more disgusting to me – the impact this law is going to have on our state, or the ease with which people such as the previous commenter dismiss this couple’s difficulty. Second guessing why they don’t currently have certified copies of birth certificates handy? Quibbling over what could be an exageration of the cost of fuel (but might not be – given “average” prices of gas certainly don’t reflect individual experiences and definitely not in rural areas)?

  51. On Wisconsin! says:

    I call B.S……how in the world were these people able to previously obtain passports to travel to such exotic locations such as Japan and Thailand, without having the need to provide a certified birth certificate….Also, the average price per gallon in Wisconsin during the Thanksgiving holiday was $3.15 per gallon….I would not exactly call that $4 per gallon….Nice try!!


  1. US press cries up election theft in Russia, but clams up about it over here (2 items) :: News From Underground - [...] Couple Unable to get ID to Vote By Heidi Herron http://wivoices.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/wisconsin-couple-unable-to-get-id-to-vote/ Related Posts:What do the numbers tell us re:…

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