You don't need anything more to prove that the Voter ID craze sweeping across the country at the behest of conservative legislators and Governors is pure Voter Suppression than a memo obtained by the Madison Capital Times showing Wisconsin state employees being instructed not to inform applicants that the new Wisconsin Voter ID is free.
An internal memo from a top Department of Transportation official instructs workers at Division of Motor Vehicles service centers not to tell members of the public that they can obtain voter identification cards free of charge -- unless they know to ask for it.
The memo, recently obtained by The Capital Times, was written by Steve Krieser and sent to all state Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles employees on July 1, the same day employees were to begin issuing photo IDs in accordance with a controversial new Voter Photo ID law adopted earlier in the year.
As laid out in the memo, failure to check a box when applying for photo ID with the Division of Motor Vehicles will result in the payment of $28. Interviews conducted about the memo suggest the state is more interested in continuing to charge the fee, which is required for a photo ID used for non-voting purposes, than it is in removing all barriers and providing easy access to a free, photo ID.If the state government really wants residents to get the ID, and thus use it in elections, it would put that information on a huge sign at the entrance to the Division of Motor Vehicles stations, where the ID is offered.
It would put that information in a written note handed to all people showing up for any service at the motor vehicles offices.
And the government would put the information in public service ads, and in newspaper notices, and move away from game-playing anbd language parsing to trick applicants out of money and their viting right, as guaranteed in the state constotition, unfettered by trickery and fees.
In other words, you promote it - - but you'd have to also want truly to promote voter turnout - - and that is not the case in Wisconsi, as the new law keeps students out of the polling place by disqualifying their student ID's as valid for voting.
And by sneakily forcing voters to pay for an ID that is free, the state is tamping down voting in lower-income (read: minority) communities. In Wisconsin, and elsewhere, student and lower-income voters trend Democratic.
Coincidence, or intention?
[Update: The Journal Sentinel entered the media fray this afternoon as state officials scurried to explain that they were not enforcing the Voter ID bill as any sort of poll tax, Watch them spin, here, though Madison attorney Lester Pines pretty much has it nailed:
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is trying to raise $200,000 to sue over the law, arguing it violates a provision of the state constitution that limits what restrictions can be put on voting.Bottom line: Telling line employees to stay silent on the Voter ID's free status is more proof that Republicans in charge of Wisconsin's government want to suppress Democratic-leaning election turnout while maximizing voting among Republican homeowners, with fixed addresses, who will not be likely to need or seek the new ID.
Lester Pines, the attorney for the league, said he was concerned about the DMV policy on not telling voters they could get IDs for free.
"Potentially there is a legal problem in that it shows the state is interested as a matter of policy in charging for these (IDs), and that would be a poll tax," Pines said. "The agency's policy is to put revenue above protecting the right to vote."]
Suppressing turnout is antithetical to democracy, the Wisconsin tradition and the state constitution as well.
Heads should roll at the Department of Transportation.