REPORT: Nine People Denied Voting Rights By Voter ID Laws

Ruthelle Frank (Photo Credit: Central Wisconsin Sunday)

Supporters of Voter ID laws routinely justify them by claiming they are necessary to combat an epidemic of people showing up at the polls and claiming to be someone else. And yet, when asked to prove that such an epidemic exists, their case immediately falls apart. When the Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility to strike down these unconstitutional assaults on the franchise four years ago, it was only able to cite one actual example of voter fraud in the last 140 years.

The laws’ opponents, however, do not have this problem. Here are just nine examples of the kinds of people being denied voting rights by Voter ID laws:

  • Ricky Tyrone Lewis is a 58 year-old Marine Corps veteran. Despite the fact that he was able to offer Wisconsin voting officials proof of his honorable discharge from the Marines, Milwaukee County has been unable to find the record of his birth that he needs in order to obtain a voter ID card.
  • Ruthelle Frank is an 84 year-old former elected official who voted in every election for the last 63 years, yet she will be unable to obtain a voter ID unless she pays a fee to obtain a birth certificate from the Wisconsin government — despite the fact that the Constitution explicitly forbids any voter from being charged a fee in order to vote. Worse, because the attending physician at her birth misspelled her name on her original birth certificate, she may need to pay hundreds of dollars in court fees to petition the state judiciary to correct her certificate before she can obtain a voter ID.
  • Paul Carroll is an 86-year-old World War II veteran who has lived in the same Ohio town for four decades. Yet, when he attempted to vote in the recent Ohio primary, he was told his photo ID from the Department of Veterans Affairs was not good enough because it did not include his address.
  • Dorothy Cooper is a 96-year-old African-American woman who says she has voted in every election but one since she became eligible to vote. Yet, when she attempted to obtain a voter ID, she was turned away because she did not have a copy of her marriage license. In a subsequent interview, Cooper said that she didn’t even have problems voting in Tennessee “during Jim Crow days” — only now under Voter ID.
  • Thelma Mitchell is a 93-year-old woman who cleaned the Tennessee Capitol for 30 years. She never received a birth certificate, however, because she was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918 and there was no record of her birth. When she attempted to obtain a voter ID, she was turned away for lack of a birth certificate by a clerk who suggested she could be an illegal immigrant.
  • Virginia Lasater is a 91-year-old woman who has been active in political campaigns for 70 years. Because of her advanced age, however, she is no longer able to stand for extended periods of time. When she attempted to obtain a voter ID, she was confronted with lines that stretched for several hours and no place to sit while she waited — forcing her to abandon her effort to obtain an ID due to her physical constraints.
  • Darwin Spinks is an 86 year-old World War II veteran. He was told to pay a fee before he could obtain a voter ID in Tennessee, despite the fact that charging someone to vote is unconstitutional.
  • Rita Platt is a Wisconsin resident who was turned away from her attempt to obtain a voter ID because she required either a birth certificate or a passport to obtain one — both of which can only be obtained if the voter pays a fee. Worse, in Wisconsin, voters must fill out a misleading form which suggests that they cannot obtain the birth certificate they need to obtain a photo ID unless they already have a photo ID.
  • Jessica Cohen is a Texas resident who lost her license and other identification papers in a burglary. She now must also pay an unconstitutional fee in order to obtain the birth certificate she needs to obtain a new voter ID. Because Cohen lives in Texas, she will likely be able to vote in 2012 because the Department of Justice blocked Texas’ law under the Voting Rights Act — although there is a high risk that the Supreme Court’s conservatives will declare the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.