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Voter ID Fraud

Sep. 13, 2011
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The dead giveaway that the real purpose of Wisconsin's voter ID law was to try to prevent some people from voting was when the state told voters they had to go to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get their voter ID cards. Spending a few hours at the DMV is sort of the civic equivalent of getting a bag thrown over your head and being flown to some totalitarian country to be waterboarded.

Now it turns out a top official in Gov. Scott Walker's Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to keep it secret that voter IDs are free. That way citizens who don't realize they're legally entitled to free voter IDs will cough up $28 a pop for them.

Aren't Walker's tea party supporters opposed to government taking hard-earned money from citizens? They should really be furious about Walker's government trying to grab money for ID cards that by law are free. 

"While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it."

That's a quote from Steve Krieser, recently promoted to the third-ranking official in the DOT, in a memo sent to all DMV employees.

You see, in order to receive a free voter ID, a citizen must check a certain box on Form MV3001. If they fail to check that box certifying they need a photo ID for voting (which everyone does), the DMV can charge $28.

If the DMV can trick enough people into paying $28 for a free ID, Krieser might even get another promotion.

The reason for all this flimflam is that the free voter ID under the law actually is the same Wisconsin photo ID that the DMV has sold in the past for $28 to people who don't have driver's licenses.

Apparently, Republican legislators didn't worry much about that in their rush to pass a voter ID law to make voting more difficult for poor people, racial minorities, students and the elderly—all groups more likely to vote Democratic than Republican.

But now the DMV is appalled to be losing all the revenue from the photo ID cards they used to sell because students now can use free voter ID cards to get into bars. Talk about unintended consequences.

GOP Moves to Disenfranchise

Of course, if Republicans could have gotten away with charging $28 or, even better, $2,800 for each voter ID for folks who didn't have driver's licenses, they would have.

Since the people without driver's licenses are primarily poor, African American, Latino or elderly, it would have been a sure-fire way to keep a lot of Democratic voters away from the polls.

But even the right-wing John Roberts majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Indiana's version of a voter ID law in 2008, couldn't stomach charging citizens to vote in America.

That would be an unconstitutional poll tax, a practice widely used in the segregated South under Jim Crow laws to prevent poor African Americans from voting.

In the South in those days, Democrats were the ones conspiring to prevent African Americans from voting. The parties reversed roles after President Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats embraced the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s.

Republican President Richard Nixon devised what he called the "Southern Strategy," turning his back on the Republicans' proud history as the party of Lincoln. Republicans openly began courting racist Southern whites alienated by the Democrats' support of civil rights.

When President Barack Obama won by a wide margin in 2008, Republicans began urgently devising new ways to prevent African Americans from voting.

The five states passing photo ID laws to accomplish that in the past year were Wisconsin, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Kansas.

It was part of a central campaign financed by Walker's political underwriters, the right-wing, billionaire Koch brothers. Some interesting local variations were written into state laws.

In Gov. Rick Perry's Texas, a concealed-carry gun permit is an acceptable voter ID, but a college student ID is not.

Walker's Republicans deviously wrote specific requirements for student IDs into the law that no Wisconsin college IDs meet, potentially disenfranchising all 242,000 state students.

Charging for free IDs is just one of the games being played involving the Wisconsin DMV. A fourth of the offices around the state are open less than one day a month.

Then, shortly after making DMV the repositories of voter IDs, Walker announced he was shutting 16 offices, many of them in Democratic areas. The decision was reversed only after an outcry from Democratic legislators.

Republicans justified passing the voter ID law with stories of imaginary voter fraud. The real fraud is being committed by Republicans conspiring to prevent citizens from voting and charging them for free IDs.


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