Wisconsin Department of Transportation
The process of exercising our rights shouldn’t be so damn difficult.
After Friday's oral arguments over Wisconsin's voter ID law in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, I started to write down my thoughts on the matter.
Me: "It looks highly likely that the court will rule in favor of the state and strike down the injunction -- the final thing holding back voter ID in Wisconsin. There's a small chance they could remove the injunction before November's election, even though that it would chaos this close to an election."
Well, that is about as far as I got before the court reinstated voter ID. It was on the Friday afternoon only hours after oral arguments. I can't even get my dry cleaning done that quickly.
Now, less than two months before the midterm elections, Wisconsin's voter rules have completely changed. It is like changing the rules on the gridiron right before kickoff. Except, you know, football is a sport, while voting is a sacred right we hold as citizens that is protected by the Constitution.
The Wisconsin DMV is only starting the application process for free IDs on Monday, September 15. If you don't have a birth certificate, you have to fill out a "Document Verification Process form" that asks for information like this: "Mother's Last -- Maiden Name (as it appears on the birth certificate)."
Hope you remember that if you're an 85-year-old without a birth certificate.
All of that information is then cross-checked with "Vital Records," which does not give me faith that issuing an ID will be an expeditious process.
I'm a 31-year-old man who regularly nerds out over parliamentary procedure, and I can't unravel all of this. How is a senior citizen without a car or a birth certificate going to manage the process?
The jurists in this case didn't have to rush this reversal through -- the election process is already happening. Absentee ballots are being sent out, as it takes months to get them to and back from our military members overseas.
Even in Wisconsin, this is still way too little time to prepare. County clerks have messed up on voter ID in recent elections. But considering how many rules have changed over the last four years,how could you expect them to be caught up on everything? There is going to be a lot of misinformation out there.
The process of exercising our rights shouldn't be so damn difficult.
You may have been unprepared for the court's voter ID ruling, but don't be unprepared in November. Please help, in whatever way you can.
Take an elderly neighbor to the DMV -- even if you are a bleeding heart liberal and they are a die-hard Walker supporter. Our voting rights are bigger than any election, and too many people fought and died to let a citizen get disenfranchised over some last minute electioneering.
Volunteer to be a poll observer on Election Day.
Be a better citizen.