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Wisconsin Voter ID Law may Force 84-Year-Old Woman to Pay $200 to get a Voter ID

Tanya Somanader
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Tuesday 6 December 2011
Because Ruthelle Frank, born in the United States, never received an official birth certificate, the state’s new voter ID law will not allow her to vote.
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For 63 years, Brokaw, Wisconsin native Ruthelle Frank went to the polls to vote. Though paralyzed on her left side since birth, the 84-year-old “fiery woman” voted in every election since 1948 and even got elected herself as a member of the Brokaw Village Board. But because of the state’s new voter ID law, 2012 will be the first year Frank can’t vote. Born after a difficult birth at her home in 1927, Frank never received an official birth certificate. Her mother recorded it in her family Bible and Frank has a certification of baptism from a few months later, along with a Social Security card, a Medicare statement, and a checkbook. But without the official document, she can’t secure the state ID card that the new law requires to vote next year.

“It’s really crazy,” she added. “I’ve got all this proof. You mean to tell me that I’m not a U.S. citizen?” But state officials have informed Frank that, because the state Register of Deeds does have a record of her birth, they can issue her a new birth certificate — for a fee. And because of a spelling error, that fee may be as high as $200:

Though Frank never had a birth certificate, the state Register of Deeds in Madison has a record of her birth. It can generate a birth certificate for her — for a fee. Normally, the cost is $20.

“I look at that like paying a fee to vote,” Frank said.

And for Frank, that might not be the end of it. The attending physician at Frank’s birth misspelled her maiden name, which was Wedepohl. To get a birth certificate that has correct information, she will have to petition a court to amend the document — a weeks-long process that could cost $200 or more.

The State Vital Records Division advised frank to just pay the $20 for an incorrect birth certificate and cross her fingers that the DMV accepts it. “If she gets [the state ID], great!” officials said in an email. If not, they said “she can begin the lengthy, potentially costly process of getting the document fixed. Then she can return to the DMV and try again.”

Another state official suggested Frank claim she is “indefinitely confined,” a category that would grant her an exception under the law. “That would be real voter fraud,” said Frank. “I go down to the Village Hall for meetings. I get around ok.” She added, “I don’t want to be a liar” and “that would be lying.”

“It’s just stupid,” Frank said of the situation. A stupidity that numerous citizens like 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper and 86-year-old Darwin Spinks face on account of their own state’s voter ID restrictions. In Wisconsin, one study noted that “an estimated 177,399 Wisconsin residents 65 and older do not have a driver’s license or state photo ID — 23 percent of that population. The study estimated that another 98,247 residents ages 35 through 64 lack IDs,” particularly among minorities.

Thus, unfortunately, Frank does not face disenfranchisement alone. “I feel for other people out there” who don’t have the necessary IDs or certificates, Frank said. “I think they just won’t vote.”

Originally published on ThinkProgress



It is a much more complex

It is a much more complex day and age and I am willing to concede that even we Americans need a secure name, photo and number identification for many reasons, and voting would be one of them. Crossing the border of the country would be another. Here's the thing, though. Because it is in the government's interest to maintain a database of citizens and to issue this id, it should just be part of the federal or state government responsibilities and issued to *ALL* people for a nominal cost. Maybe the first one free and $5 or $10 for a renewal or replacement. Maybe it would even just be a bar code that links to a government database where the picture and everything is stored. I know, it sounds Big Brother, but it would be nothing that Facebook or the DMV doesn't already have. And never mind the DMV , let the State Department of Vital Records and Federal Homeland Security with its enormous budget administer and pay for this.

We should have a "common

We should have a "common sense" test for candidates for public office. This is insulting, to say the least. And I think it's a smokescreen to hide the fact that the newer voting machines are inherently flawed.

whats absurd is the clown

whats absurd is the clown posse republicans trying to skew the democratic vote cause they cannot play by the rules and win.

Hey dummy...its Democrats

Hey dummy...its Democrats pushing for no voter id ..and any group with your liberal agenda is backing them.and you say Republicans have to cheat to win...I almost fell over laughing you idiot!!!

yes dead should be allowed to

yes dead should be allowed to vote [only 3% in my precinct]

Voter fraud has never been

Voter fraud has never been shown by anyone to be nearly that high. You are conflating every kind of questionable vote together; every vote which you may have been able to get disqualified legally. How many dead people have medicare statements (you have to live in the district) and social security cards?

Why should we the people be

Why should we the people be REQUIRED TO SHOW OUR PAPERS to live in our own country?That is what they require in fascist and communists nations not in a Republic

No, they are simply evil and

No, they are simply evil and unashamed.

What a crock! This lady's

What a crock! This lady's entire life proves her identity. Just another way to extract money from the citizens and harass this elderly lady who has ethics which are a rare commodity today.Mispelling of a name by doctors or even priests in baptismal certificates or marriage certificates is not uncommon. It's not the spelling of the name,it's the identity and this lady's life proves her identity. Why not sworn notarized statements in lieu of $200 plus $20 for a new birth certificate.?

The point is not extraction

The point is not extraction of money from elderly citizens. The point is disenfranchisement of legitimate citizens in order to hold power and maintain control on behalf of . . . the Koch brothers, et. al.

I think it's way more than

I think it's way more than that. It's more like complete slavery whilst squeezing out the guts and will to resist and emptying whatever money they,the powers that be evil,can grab. Stealing from the poor and struggling while applying the boot to push them under to insure they drown. Women are the easier victims to rake over the coals. Even Martha Stewart and the hotel woman(forgot her name) were prey. Elderly have a few things going against them. I speak from an incident with the powers due to the spelling of my own name which was used as a tool to their loonacy. One letter was out of place. Can I buy a vowel? It seems added to their lack of common sense and using it,they purposefully seek out ways to harass, intimidate and create conflict and cash cows that eat up the common people and their money,land,and will if they could succeed.
What baffles me is the birth certificate and identity of that guy in the White House. It's way past time for proof of who the devil's disciple he is. Forget the labels of "liberal","demoncrat","republiclowns" and all the tea partyers. Time to cut to the chase and realize the world..not just the good ole USA, is drowning by a tsunami of man made origin and wake up and smell the chemtrails. De-population by whatever methods they can muster,diminishes and eliminates for the immediate future many perceived obstacles in the master plans..

Are all Republicans

Are all Republicans invincibly ignorant?



Don't believe it or one

Don't believe it or one minute. Any one of these state heads of departments should be able to waive all the legal requirements based on her history of voting, etc. They could if they wanted to but that is the big sticking point - they don't want to.

Hey, look! It's some of that

Hey, look! It's some of that "voter fraud" the GOP is always beating its chest and tearing its hair over... of course, it's the GOP that's trying to interfere with the citizenry's ability to exercise its right to vote, but what the heck!

Is anyone challenging these

Is anyone challenging these laws as unconstitutional infringements on the right to vote? I would certainly donate to such a fund.



"Takes from the poor and gives to the rich...
this lying, cheating, son-of-a-_ _ _ _ _!"

"Is an odious man who attempts to invoke...
the sick will of his masters, the brothers Koch."

"Whose abuse of power we cannot condone...
so it's time for this tyrant to be pulled off his throne!"

Mr. S. Pimpernel

This is absurd. Everybody

This is absurd. Everybody needs an ID, for food stamps, welfare, health care, marriage, jobs and in the bank, to cash a check. Everybody needs to show an ID before being allowed inside our primary and high schools!!! We need IDs to get a parking sticker!! To get a library card!!! At department stores and grocery stores as identification when purchasing items with a credit card, you need an ID. And if you buy any alcohol or cigarettes you need an ID. To get into a bar or club, you need an ID. Drive a car….. This lady is an anomaly!! And anybody would be willing to help her get one!!! Why are Liberals so intent in undermining our country????

My mother was born at home

My mother was born at home and had a birth certificate with no given name. but the courthouse burned down destroying the birth certificate. When she was ready to retire, her oldest brother had to swear she was born. She never had a driver's license or a passport either. Had banks accounts, other accounts, stock accounts, credit accounts-no id. Republicans must not know how to read or think. Over 200,000 people does not constitute an anomaly. Please go back to Faux News where you belong.

Magvitum, what you do not

Magvitum, what you do not realize is that there are still many people living who have never had to have these IDs, especially if it is required from a driving license. I have a sister who is 72 who has never driven. She does have other means of ID, however. Unfortunately I also have a 24 year old niece who has a fear of driving and does not have a license. I have a friend in a nursing home for whom it took nearly a year of maneuvering to get all the paperwork needed to get her a State ID for a certain purpose, because she also never has driven. (Not that it ordinarily takes that long, but I had to pursue it on visits from out-of-town). What I am saying is that it may often take a prolonged effort for some people to get IDs, and everyone does NOT have them. So don't be so surprised that some people are complaining. They are also NOT on welfare. Different people may have different needs is all I'm saying -- so you can't lump everyone in the same category.

Check the party registration

Check the party registration of the State Legislators who voted for this measure. You won't find one liberal among them. Is there such a malady as political dyslexia?

Did you leave a /snark off at

Did you leave a /snark off at the end of your comment?

She has ID. It's a birth

She has ID.

It's a birth certificate she doesn't have.

Why are conservatives so incapable of reading for comprehension?

KirstenL's picture

You apparently did not read

You apparently did not read the entire article, a total of 275,646 people do not have ID's - how is she an anomaly? Obviously, since she has functioned fine for the last 63 years - this is yet another move to remove voters from the pool. Republicans have proven time and again, if you can't win on your own merits, cheat, change the rules, change the laws - whatever works in their best interests, not the people's best interest.

the law in proposed in my

the law in proposed in my state allowed low income to waive fee

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