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Voter ID 1

Poll workers Sharon Lewandowski, left, and Carol Rickey asked voters at Olbrich Gardens in Madison if they had photo identification cards as part of an educational effort in the July 12 election. Starting next year, no one will be allowed to vote in Wisconsin without a picture ID under a law signed in May by Gov. Scott Walker.

A Beaver Dam man took issue with a recent column in which I deplored the significant inconvenience Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in the Legislature have imposed on Wisconsin’s senior citizens with their dopey voter identification law.

The Beaver Dam reader, who read the column in the Daily Citizen, said his mother-in-law got her ID in less than 10 minutes at the Motor Vehicles facility in his city. That was a huge contrast to the nearly two-hour waits that many seniors are experiencing in Madison.

He went on to say that “you should try to be a little less biased in your reporting,” forgetting, I guess, that this is a column of opinion and not a news story.

I wrote him back to say that yes, I am biased on this issue. I think it’s not only unnecessary, but a shameful affront to many of our citizens who have faithfully voted in elections going back to before Scott Walker was born.

No sooner had I replied than I got this email note from Gail Bloom of rural Rhinelander:

“How many of us can say we have voted for the past 83 years? As far as our family knows, my 101-year-old mother, Gladys Lassig Butterfield, has voted in every federal, state and local election since she turned 21. However, Scott Walker and the current Wisconsin Legislature have determined that she can’t vote as conveniently as she has in the past; she must apply for a voter ID.

“Because she no longer has an unexpired driver’s license and her baptismal record isn’t acceptable as proof of her identity, she has had to apply for and pay $20 for a state certified birth certificate. She is not exempt from needing an ID as those in nursing homes are because my sister and I have been able to care for her in her home.

“The next step is to take her in her wheelchair to the Department of Transportation to wait in line to have her picture taken. If she doesn’t request a free voter ID, she will have to pay an additional $28.

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“My mother is fortunate that she has someone to take her through this vote suppressing procedure. How many elderly or disabled residents do not?

“Are Scott Walker and his followers deliberately making it difficult for the elderly, disabled, poor and young to vote? My mother thinks so.”

And so do I.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.