I do try to stay positive and keep my cynical side on a leash. However, with elections almost upon us, I urge everyone to get out and unelect the politicians who have blatantly instituted unconstitutional measures as a means of procuring their own victories and agendas.
In March of 2005 I wrote a letter to protest Wisconsin legislature AB63, a bill that was termed "Election Protection". Wisconsin Bill AB63 was passed, and additionally was adopted and passed by most other states in the USA. The bill guaranteed protestion of "legal" elections by requiring all voters to have a photo ID in order to vote. The photo IDs that were required were to be obtained through state agencies; they could be driver licenses, work permits, or state issued IDs. The photo IDs were not given freely to all citizens; to obtain an ID, the cost (paid to each state agency) was anywhere from $2.00 to $10.00. I reprint my letter here as I felt then, and still feel now, that AB63 and its counterparts are in direct violation of our constitutional rights, as stated in the 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (1964):
"The rights of citizens ... shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax"..
Get out and vote people! We need to take our country back and not allow ourselves to be misrepresented by an outlaw administration intent on undermining our freedom, rights and status in the world community.
March 17, 2005
Wisconsin State Senator Jeffery Plale
RE: Assembly Bill 63
I find it very disconcerting that while we send American citizens in harms way in Iraq to secure voting rights for Iraqis, we in this country are experiencing vast gulfs in the ways which voting takes place among our own citizens.
According to jsonline.com/news/racine/feb05/302687, the instances of voting fraud in the state of Wisconsin during the elections of November 2004 were minimal. Additionally, it would appear that there have been a paucity of poll workers to oversee and process the elections. While current procedure exists to under staff polling places, we are asking that the DOT absorb and administrate the issuing of and renewal of Photo IDs. It is estimated that the yearly cost of this could reach as much as $1 million. Bill AB63's supporters have added a provision that would allow the state to use Help America Vote Act to recoup up to $250,000. annually for costs it incurs for original issuing and renewal of Photo IDs. This seems like irresponsible book keeping.
A proposal like requiring photo IDs blames the voters for the problems rather than the election officials and makes it the voters problem to fix the system. Any
further impediments to the process must be placed on the election officials or the local governments that run the elections. In a time when we already struggle with voter participation, we must not add an unnecessary hurdle for voters to jump.
Even the hint of voting fraud should be embarrassing to Americans with family members in Iraq. But before we legislate reform, shouldn't we first actually understand the issues at hand?
Only one instance of fraud in the state of wisconsin has been proven and prosecuted in the state's history. In the September 2004 primary election, a student voted in both his home address and his school address in a different county. He had a photo ID.
AB 63 would create new problems, limiting the ability of the elderly, poor and students to exercise their right to vote. These are folks who might not have a drivers license and would have great difficulty getting a state-issued photo ID from somewhere, particularly before the election. Drivers' licenses do not state whether a person is a convicted felon or even a U.S. citizen. They often are valid even if they do not show a person's current address and if a person has moved. In short, they prove very little.
Investigations into potential voting fraud are far from complete and thus far have yielded no evidence of fraud in Milwaukee or anywhere else.
We need to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The newly suggested legislation would make it more burdensome for voters. Why should we trade the basic democratic elements of our process for overly cumbersome requirements that do nothing but discourage minority and elderly voting?
Questionable addresses, make up less than half of one percent of the total votes cast in the city of Milwaukee. Computer and clerical error account for a very similar percentage of error in cities across the state and country.
Issues such as incorrect information being given by poll workers and election observers has not even been addressed with the introduction of AB 53, while misinformation resulted in scores of voters being turned away from polling places.
Ab 63 is an unconstitutional poll tax on those whose grasp on the franchise is currently most vulnerable: the elderly, the low-income, the homeless, and the handicapped. Individuals could lose time and wage compensation, as well as pay bus or taxi fare in order to obtain an unnecessary ID. The current cost of an original Photo ID issued by the WIDOT is $9.00. If the only reason that a person would be required to have a Photo ID is for voting, then the fee for the ID proves to be a poll tax, and is therefore unconstitutional.
24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (1964):
"The rights of citizens ... shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax".
AB 63 also likely violates the federal Voting Rights Act by imposing discrimination against minorities. Several states have unsuccessfully attempted to enact more rigorous ID requirements. The Michigan Attorney General found that the Michigan Election law requiring voter identification either by photo ID or by signing an affidavit, was unconstitutional. The Attorney General stated that this would impose economic and logistical burdens on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those who do not possess photo identification. Additionally, AB 63 will completely strip a homeless voter's right to vote via corroboration, simply because that person lacks an address or a photo ID and would no longer be able to use corroboration to vote.
*NOTE: Nearly one third of all homeless persons are veterans.
I would like this letter to serve as my vehement opposition to AB 63 and ask that all citizens concerned with democracy in the state of Wisconsin do the same.