Did telling the truth about free voter ID cards get Chris Larsen fired? Larsen, who worked as a mail room employee at Wisconsin’s Department of Public Safety and Professional Services, was fired just hours after sending an email informing his colleagues about the Department of Transportation’s policy regarding free voter IDs. That policy? Only offer the free ID if someone asks for it—otherwise, charge the normal $28 fee.
Larsen described his firing to Campus Progress: “They asked why I sent the email. I said I felt people should be informed. They said it was inappropriate and [DSPS Secretary] Dave Ross would be upset, and they felt it was best if we parted ways.”
But John Murray, executive assistant at the DSPS, says Larsen “had a series of workplace violations, including inappropriate use of email resources” and that Larsen had been counseled on these violations.
Here’s the full text of Larsen’s email:
Do you know someone who votes that does not have a State ID that meets requirements to vote? Tell them they can go to the DMV/DOT and get a free ID card. However they must ask for the free ID. a memo was sent out by the 3rd in command of the DMV/DOT. The memo specifically told the employees at the DMV/DOT not to inform individuals that the ID’s are free. So if the individuals seeking to get the free ID does not ask for a free ID, they will have to pay for it!!
Just wanted everyone to be informed!! REMEMBER TO TELL ANYONE YOU KNOW!! ANYONE!! EVEN IF THEY DON’T NEED THE FREE ID, THEY MAY KNOW SOMEONE THAT DOES!! SO TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!
Perhaps the caps lock and exclamation points at the end could be seen as excessive or even trollish, but the email relays accurate information about a dubious practice.
After passing one of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws—one that doesn’t even accept University of Wisconsin student IDs—Wisconsin legislators claimed they would avoid creating a “poll tax” on voters by offering free IDs to those who need them.
But keeping the “free” aspect a secret—as was the department’s intention, based on a leaked memo from a senior official—clearly undermines that goal.
Opponents of the voter ID legislation—which disenfranchises young people, the elderly, people of color, disabled, and low-income people—say Larsen’s email was simply a public service for voters.