Anti-immigrant sentiment is so strong that many states have passed voter ID laws, requiring people to show picture IDs before they pull the lever, punch their card, mark their ballot, etc. Of course, these laws are nothing more than voter suppression laws in disguise -- that is their true intent and design.
Let's be clear. Illegal immigrants don't go anywhere near the polls -- are you kidding me? They don't want to be anyplace that has even a whiff of official government activity. No, what these Republican-sponsored laws tend to do is prevent the elderly, minorities, and the poor -- typically key Democratic voting blocks -- from voting. You see, if you don't drive -- so no driver's license -- or you don't have the funds to buy a state ID or to pay for a copy of your birth certificate --or no one can find your birth certificate -- too bad. No ballot for you!
Arizona's voter ID law has nabbed one such suspicious person -- and she is being punished accordingly. Shirley Preiss was born in Kentucky in 1910, before suffrage rights were even granted to American women. Shirley has actually been quite the conscientious voter, casting her ballot in every presidential election since 1932. But, all that's about to change. As Art Levine reported in the Huffington Post, Shirley effectively lost her right to vote when she moved to Arizona.
After living in Arizona for two years, she was eagerly looking forward to casting her ballot in the February primary for the first major woman candidate for President, Hillary Clinton. But lacking a birth certificate or even elementary school records to prove she’s a native-born American citizen, the state of Arizona’s bureaucrats determined that this former school-teacher who taught generations of Americans shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
Arizona's voter ID law requires voters to produce ID at the polling place and to provide proof of citizenship in order to register. But birth certificates weren’t provided in 1910 in Clinton, KY, where Shirley was born. To top it off, her elementary school no longer exists. And since no one who witnessed her birth is alive to attest to the fact that Shirley was, indeed, actually born -- a way to get a delayed birth certificate -- Shirley is shit outta luck. And there is absolutely no provision in the Arizona law to get a waiver. So Shirley, after being a good citizen for decades, sat out the spring primary and gets to sit home again on November 4th -- watching democracy pass her by.
The scary thing is that the US Supreme Court recently upheld a similar Indiana voter ID law, saying that it didn't seem to impose an undue burden on citizens. Levine further reported about a similar situation in Missouri, a state that is also rushing headlong into passing an ill-conceived, draconian voter ID law. When you hear what these nuns -- yes, nuns -- have to say, you see just how big of a burden these laws can be:
At a fair-election coalition press conference at the League of Women Voters' headquarters in Jefferson City, a few nuns came forward to express their concerns that the Catholic sisters in their convents lack the required ID. In fact, before the news conference, Sister Sandy Schwartz of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary in St. Louis reported the results of an informal survey of nuns in her order."Fifteen [of 35 voters] did not have state-issued photo IDs," she observed. "This may sound like a good idea at first, but once you stop to think about who would really be affected, this is going to keep a lot of our loved ones from being able to vote."
The strict documentary requirements can be hard for Missouri nuns and other senior citizens, even married women of all ages, in obtaining their birth certificates. A survey by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice found that 52 percent of married woman don't have a birth certificate in their current name, and 17 percent of citizens age 65 and over don't have access to any citizenship documents.
If you thought Florida in 2000 was bad, wait until you hear the stories of disenfranchisement that will come out of this election as a result of these ill-conceived voter ID laws. And it will be all the more ironic -- not to mention sad, disheartening and infuriating -- coming in a year that has seen record voter turn out this primary season.
Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.