The reports of how the Republican-inspired voter ID law is disenfranchising Wisconsin citizens, particularly the elderly, keep coming in. Last week the Wausau Daily Herald ran a heart-rendering story about 84-year-old Ruthelle Frank of nearby Brokaw, who has not only voted in every election since she turned 21 in 1948, but has served on the Brokaw Village Board for the past 15 years.
Because of a paralysis she suffered at birth, Frank has never had a driver’s license. That being the case, she, like tens of thousands of other Wisconsin residents without licenses, needs to get a so-called state picture ID card so she can go to the polls to exercise what should be her right as an American citizen.
Under the onerous provisions of this new law, which was gleefully signed by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year, she has to produce a birth certificate to get the ID. Ordinarily it cost her $20 to obtain a birth certificate since she doesn’t have one — something she finds “crazy.” She has a baptism certificate, a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, a checkbook. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen? That I don’t live at 123 First St. in Brokaw?” she said. “It’s just stupid.” But, wait, there’s more to the stupidity foisted on Wisconsin citizens by this Republican-led Legislature.
While there is a record of her birth in Madison, the attending physician misspelled her maiden name. In order to get a birth certificate that has correct information, she would have to petition a court to fix it, a process that could cost at least $200. But, as far as Ruthelle Frank is concerned, she shouldn’t have to pay one penny to exercise her right to vote.
One of the more enlightened wags in this administration suggested she could pay the $20 for the incorrect birth certificate and hope that the Department of Motor Vehicles accepts it. “Roll the dice, in other words,” noted the Daily Herald’s reporter. If DMV doesn’t accept it, then she can begin the more costly procedure.
Frank, though, is a born-and-raised Wisconsinite who doesn’t believe in cheating. For instance, another bureaucrat counseled her to take advantage of a special exemption in the law that applies to people “indefinitely confined.” They can vote absentee without the ID.
“That would be real voter fraud,” she said. “I’m not good at walking — I couldn’t win a marathon. But I go down to the village hall for meetings. I get around. I don’t want to be a liar and that would be lying.” Despite her tale of woe, the chairman of Marathon County’s Republican Party was unmoved.