Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker is very proud of his voter ID law which disenfranchised a lot of the electorate on April 5th, most of whom turned out to be traditional Democratic-leaning voters. One of those voters is a 58-year-old African-American man by the name of Eddie Lee Hollayway Jr.
In 2008, Holloway moved from Illinois to Wisconsin. He worked as a cook in Illinois, however, he’s now unemployed and disabled. Holloway now lives with family in Milwaukee and was able to vote in his new home state without any issues until Walker’s voter ID law passed in 2011.
I never miss voting, he said.
Before the April 5th primary, Holloway brought his documentation to the DMV to obtain his voter ID, which included his expired Illinois photo ID, Social Security card, and birth certificate. Unfortuantely, the DMV rejected his application.
It turned out that Holloway’s birth certificate had a clerical error. His name read, “Eddie Junior Holloway” on the certificate, which wasn’t his legal name. Holloway was able to get a ride into downtown Milwaukee to the Vital Records System so that he could get his birth certificate fixed. However, Vital Records told him that it would cost from $400 to $600 to fix the error. He just couldn’t afford to pay that kind of money.
Holloway then contacted the Illinois Vital Records Division, who told him that he needed to travel personally to Illinois state capital of Springfield to amend his birth certificate.
The frustrated voter bought a $180 round trip bus ticket and made the four-hour trip back to Illinois. When he arrived in Springfield, Vital Records informed him that they needed a copy of his high-school and vaccination records.
Holloway paid a friend $20 for gas money and made the trip back to his hometown of Decatur to obtain his school records.
When he returned to Vital Records in Springfield, they told him he needed hs full Social Security statement. He didn’t have it, so he went to the DMV and struck out there as well. Holloway returned to Milwaukee with nothing to show for his efforts except an empty wallet.
Back in Milwaukee, Holloway managed to obtain his Social Security statement and called Vital Records back in Springfield to see if he could fax or email the document over.
They told him that he would have to appear in person, again.
By this time Holloway had spent a few hundred dollars, traveled between two states, and embarked on seven trips to various institutions. At the end of the day it was to no avail, he still could not vote in Wisconsin.
While Holloway and many others are being denied their right vote, the ACLU challenged Walker’s voter ID law in court two days after the Wisconsin primaries. They argued that voters like Holloway should still be able to cast their ballots.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circut, the same court which upheld the voter ID law in 2014, ruled that District Judge Lynn Adelman (the original federal judge who struck down law) should take another look at the case to help voters with an “inability to obtain a qualifying photo ID with reasonable effort.” According to the ACLU thousands of Wisconsin voters would qualify for relief.
While this is good news for Wisconsin voters, the ACLU cautions that the fight is far from over:
says Sean Young of the ACLU. Those like Holloway who’ve had many problems obtaining a photo ID should be able to sign an affidavit confirming their identity and cast a regular ballot, the ACLU believes.We continue to believe Wisconsin’s voter-ID law should be overturned entirely, but given the Seventh Circuit’s prior ruling, we’re now trying to mitigate the worst aspects of the law,”
Other states with voter-ID laws have adopted similar fallback options, although such “soft” voter-ID laws “still leave an uncertain number of voters disenfranchised,” writes Rick Hasen. “These burdens might be justified if there were evidence that state voter-identification laws solve a serious problem, but there is no such evidence.
Republicans must be stopped in Wisconsin, but just as importantly they must also be stopped in November. Otherwise, voters can expect more Republican-controlled states to pass repressive voter ID laws.