You might know some people who are convinced that requiring a photo identification at the polls is a reasonable demand. However, I hope everyone understands that you can’t make people pay to vote. That’s called a Poll Tax, and it is unconstitutional. So, when Republicans create Voter ID laws, they have to provide for a free identification card or the law will be struck down by the courts. In Wisconsin, they’ve found a way around this:

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.

“While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it,” Krieser writes to employees.

I kind of feel like I should get a refund for the cost of my passport or driver’s license, as those would be my two main sources of photo identification. But, in any case, this is a rather clear way of demonstrating the true intent of Voter ID laws. Actual voter fraud involving voting under a false identity is almost entirely non-existent. Even President Bush’s Justice Department, one of the most politicized and disgraceful departments in the history of the country, could find no evidence of systemic voter fraud. That’s because it isn’t happening and these Voter ID laws are expensive and cumbersome wastes of time. Except that, the laws discourage poor people from voting. That’s the intent. And that’s why only 59% of the people who have gotten their Photo ID in Wisconsin since this bill passed have gotten it for free. Forty-one percent of the people got ripped off and had to pay $28. And an untold number of people didn’t get a free ID because they weren’t told they were free.

Republicans want to win elections by preventing poor people from voting. Period.

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