The right to vote is fundamental to our existence as Americans. This precious right exists because of decades of struggle that removed various barriers to voting for certain groups, from the outright denial of voting rights for women and African-Americans to discriminatory poll taxes and literacy tests that were finally deemed unconstitutional.
The principle of universal suffrage should be beyond debate in 2011. The exercise of voting rights should be strongly encouraged. Instead, AB 7, the voter ID bill, which is currently up for debate in the Wisconsin Legislature, will actually make it much more difficult for many Wisconsinites to exercise their right to vote due to confusing and onerous obstacles, such as the most restrictive photo ID requirement in the country.
This legislation is not designed to verify identity because that can be achieved under current law via alternative methods. It is designed to prevent many individuals from voting at all. This will be especially true for those who are elderly, lower-income, students, people of color and the disabled. Though many Wisconsinites have a state issued photo ID many do not. Voting is a fundamental constitutionally guaranteed right for all citizens, not just citizens who handily have a driver’s license.
Just who doesn’t have an ID you may ask? Below is a list of who would be affected by this bill according to a 2005 study by UW Milwaukee Driver License Status of Voting Age Population.
Those without state-issued photo ID and would need to obtain one to vote under the Voter ID Bill include:
- 23 percent of elderly Wisconsinites over the age of 65
- 17 percent of white men and women
- 55 percent of African American males and 49 percent of African American women
- 46 percent of Hispanic men and 59 percent of Hispanic women
- 78 percent of African American males age 18-24 and 66 percent of African American women age 18-24
Their constitutional rights should not be denied.
The real reason for this legislation is political power and to suppress turnout among constituencies who may tend to vote Democratic—not to address a manufactured problem of voter fraud. Supporters of this legislation have not documented any systematic, widespread problem with votes cast in Wisconsin by those who are ineligible. This is because in Wisconsin there is no voter fraud – it simply doesn’t exist.
The real threat to the integrity of our elections is the nationwide campaign by the Republican Party to devise new barriers to voting. AB 7 will deny access to the polls for many legitimate voters who have every right to cast their ballots and have them counted. We strongly urge your opposition to this drastic curtailment of voting rights in Wisconsin.
Send an e-mail today to your Representative in opposition of AB 7 today. Help protect the voting rights of all of Wisconsin.
Below are some of the organizations and individuals who have come out against the Voter ID Bill:
Wausau Daily Herald: Our View, Voter ID bill is harmful and unnecessary
Channel 3000 Editorial: Voter ID is all about Political Power
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Voter ID would disenfranchise many elderly, poor, Interfaith group says
Common Cause in Wisconsin: Most Restrictive and Costly Voter ID Bill in Assembly Wednesday: http://www.commoncausewisconsin.org/2011/05/most-restrictive-very-costly-photo.html
Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee: Statement on Voter ID Bill
League of Women Voters: Election Bill is pure voter suppression, at our expense!