Voter-ID schemes keep snagging the elderly

Republican policymakers across the country are pushing a variety of schemes as part of the “war on voting,” but none are as pernicious as voter-ID measures. The practical effect of these laws will be to keep more minorities and senior citizens from participating in elections.

And the examples to reinforce the concerns keep piling up. Tanya Somanader yesterday highlighted the story of Wisconsin’s Ruthelle Frank, who’s been voting for 63 years.

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:

Remember, the voter-ID law was approved by Republicans to address a problem that doesn’t exist. Voters are facing these burdensome hurdles to prevent fraud that’s almost entirely limited to right-wing imaginations.

And yet, Ruthelle Frank isn’t alone. It’s the year’s biggest scandal that most Americans have probably heard nothing about.