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VoteRiders' News Roundup includes the story of senior citizens from Alabama who were denied their right to vote last week, along with three older adults in Texas for whom voter ID created an almost impossible burden to voting.

Alabama

**93-year-old Willie Mims first voted during World War II. Though he has been a consistent voter since FDR was President, Mr. Mims was denied the right to vote in Alabama on June 3 because he no longer drives and has no license or other form of ID. Nor did the poll workers offer him the option of casting a provisional ballot. Mr. Mims is among the 25% of African Americans nationwide without a government-issued photo ID.

**A 92-year-old great-grandmother whose driver's license expired last August was prevented from voting for the first time in the 57 years she has lived in Huntsville. Her friend said, "As we walked in, we were talking about doing our Constitutional duty. She's a very thoughtful citizen." And another opined, "Why is a state-issued driver's license not enough, even if expired, if the person in the photo is clearly identifiable? Is this what the writers of the law intended? She considers voting a privilege and a duty."

Older Adults in Texas

Our next story again shows how voter ID requirements impose burdens on the frail and elderly. Ruby Barber, Dorothy Card and Mary Dina Ansler are 92, 84, and 96 years old, respectively. Texas' voter ID law imposes a maze-like system of verification just to exercise their fundamental right to vote. None of the three has a driver's license.

**For Ms. Ansler, these requirements involved getting a copy of her original birth certificate from 1917, which Michigan authorities did not have; and the certified copy they sent wasn't good enough for the Department of Public Safety (DPS). She was finally able to vote after contacting her Congressman and two different Texas state offices.

**For Mrs. Barber, after an article was published about her plight, and after initially denying her, DPS agreed to work with her to help her obtain her Election Identification Certificate.

Ruby Barber
Ruby Barber with her Election Identification Certificate
Meanwhile in Arkansas, confusion reigns among poll workers applying voter ID laws. The application of Arizona and Kansas'€™ proof-of-citizenship requirement to the federal voter registration form is before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals...on its way back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

VoteRiders leads the nationwide effort to ensure all eligible voters have the necessary documents so they can vote. We are bringing voter ID and related laws to light, helping voters to understand the increasingly complex process of voting, and providing them with the tools they need to obtain the approved form of identification required to cast their ballot. Please keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM PDT

VoteRiders helping right a wrong

by VoteRiders

VoteRiders is launching what we hope to become a nationwide Voter ID Network in Houston/Harris County, Texas.  Please check out this article in MySanAntonio.com to learn more.  Excerpt below the curlicue.

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Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 07:05 AM PDT

Effective Immediately

by VoteRiders

                                          by Kathleen Unger and Steven Kamp

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Three months ago today Chief Justice John Roberts announced the 5-4 decision on Shelby County v. Holder, the most serious challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act since it was passed.

Within two hours Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott declared that “the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately.” This is the very same 2011 strict photo ID mandate that a panel of three federal judges had previously forbidden because it violated the Voting Rights Act’s prohibition against minority-voter discrimination.

When Texas revealed its plan, VoteRiders was ready. So were our Partners: Empower The Vote Texas Education Fund and Texas Civic Engagement Table. We responded and are proud to announce that our first Voter ID Clinic will take place this Saturday 9/21/2013 at NCI Ripley House, 4410 Navigation, Houston, TX 77011! The Clinic will be held from 9am to 1pm. Please call 888-557-5150 to pre-register or for more information.

According to the Justice Department, more than 600,000 eligible voters could be disenfranchised due to Texas’ new law.

Most of the registered voters who will be turned away from the polls under this law don’t have the most common ID, a current driver’s license. Who are these citizens? Students and those with low income who live in cities and rely on public transportation. The elderly, infirm and those with disabilities who are unable to drive a car but should not lose their right to choose the leaders of their country. Women who have changed their name since they registered to vote. People of color, who disproportionately lack current, government-issued photo ID.

Now we need your help!  Do you know anyone in the Houston area who needs to secure proof of citizenship or identity documents so they can get their voter ID? Even if they’re not sure if they are registered to vote, encourage them to attend the Clinic so we can assist them! The Clinic organizers are prepared to help and answer all questions. You can pre-register by calling 888-557-5150.

We really need you to spread the word so all eligible Houston-area citizens can vote! You can also visit Empower the Vote Texas Education Fund's website for more information.

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Today’s Supreme Court decision will fundamentally change the face of voting in the United States. Ruling on the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Court struck down the list of states and localities with a history of discriminatory voting practices, alleviating those jurisdictions from having to seek pre-approval to enact laws or regulations that could essentially disenfranchise voters on account of race or color, including modern-day voter ID legislation.

According to Kathleen Unger, Founder and CEO of VoteRiders: "Today's Supreme Court ruling effectively takes the brakes off efforts to impose highly restrictive voter ID requirements on registered voters in states with a long history of disenfranchisement. VoteRiders focuses on preserving every American's fundamental right to vote. Our work has never been more important than it is today." VoteRiders is a non-partisan organization that helps registered voters to secure the documents required to meet stringent voter ID regulations.  

To ensure that no eligible citizen is disenfranchised, VoteRiders is responding by launching its Voter ID Clinics with training materials needed by on-the-ground organizations along with media support.

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Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:02 AM PST

Voter ID Impact on NH Taxpayers

by VoteRiders

When New Hampshire voters went to the polls this year they were asked to show an ID due to the new Voter photo ID bill. On September 1, 2013, that law changes and becomes more restrictive by limiting the list of ID’s that will be accepted in order to cast your vote. The law removes the ability to use most forms of photo ID including those issued by a state, county or municipal government, a valid student ID, an ID determined to be legitimate by local election officials, and simple identity verification by local town officials. Voters without acceptable ID’s will not only have to sign an affidavit but will be required to have a poll worker take their photo before being allowed to vote. The poll workers will then have to print a color copy of the photo in real time and affix it to the voter’s signed affidavit. Not only will the number of individuals who get caught up in the process increase but so will state expenditures to implement the changes.  How much more will this cost the state? Roughly a quarter million dollars was requested by the Secretary of State’s office for FY14 & FY15.

America was founded on the principle that we’re all created equal.  Inside the voting booth, all Americans have an equal and unencumbered voice in our democracy. But instead, some want you to believe it’s a privilege to vote and not a right and those people are willing to make it harder for some to cast their ballot. That’s the real reason why they want to limit the number of ID’s that are acceptable. They will try to convince you that voter impersonation is rampant in New Hampshire, but we know from thorough investigations that this just is not the case. There have only been three cases of voter fraud according to fraud reports issued by the SOS and AG’s office since 2006. The most recent case at the polls in NH was that of James O’Keefe, the conservative activist who was attempting to make a point that voter impersonation is possible, but fell short of proving anything about actual voter impersonation; instead all he proved was his unfamiliarity with New Hampshire voting law, landing himself in hot water. We all agree that protecting the integrity of our elections is vitally important—that’s why we already have strict laws and protections in place.

Proponents of Voter photo ID will also try to convince you that Voter ID laws are no big deal – that you need an ID to get on an airplane or buy a beer. The problem is that neither of those actions is enshrined in our Constitution – voting is. And contrary to their belief, not everyone does have an ID. Just this past election 5,424 people in New Hampshire didn’t have an ID to vote. That’s 5,424 people who might not  cast a vote next election year because they lack ID – no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like and who they vote for, that’s 5,424 too many.

If those reasons alone don’t give you pause to think twice about the real implications of voter photo ID, then I hope the financial implications will. It is just too expensive to implement when there have only been three cases of voter fraud as reported by the Secretary of State’s office and the Attorney General in the last 8 years. More people get struck by lightning than impersonate another voter at the polls. Is a quarter of a million worth those odds? I think not.

Jess Clark
Political and Field Director
America Votes

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Over the past couple of weeks we’ve shared three stories of citizens’ onerous experiences in obtaining the identification they need to vote.

In those states that require a government-issued photo ID or in other voter ID states where citizens don't have one of the other listed documents that will enable them to vote, securing a non-driver's license state ID most often involves a trip to their state’s equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). We all know what fun that can be!

There can be various reasons why the process of getting a voter ID from the DMV may be problematic, e.g., too few branches that are located far away (over 100 miles), open few days (such as the one in Wisconsin that's open only every fifth Wednesday in a month, i.e., four times a year), and open too few or inconvenient hours. Sometimes poorly trained personnel must adhere to nonsensical-to-impossible regulations or demand unnecessary documents. The regulations are costly to overcome and can include a court order, which requires a lawyer.

As we’ve learned, the two key points of vulnerability for citizens who lack a current, valid, government-issued photo ID are: 1) the need for documents like a birth certificate and 2) assistance through the bureaucratic maze. The process can be extraordinarily complicated and prohibitively expensive, often necessitating legal help.

Optimally, we would like to see the governments in voter ID states provide the requisite funding and personnel to actively help citizens get their voter IDs. In the absence of such governmental help and funding, it's up to us - We the People - to ensure that all our fellow citizens retain their precious right to vote.  

So what is VoteRiders doing about it?

We are excited to introduce our Voter ID Document Project. In 2013, VoteRiders will begin outreach for the Project as a pilot program in South Carolina. VoteRiders will facilitate the Project, partnering with local law schools, non-profit organizations and pro-bono attorneys who will work with citizens to help them obtain the documents required to secure a state-mandated photo ID for voting purposes. Dr. Brenda Williams’ The Family Unit, which was introduced in our third installment in this series, is our lead partner. We believe the Voter ID Document Project can, must and will be replicated in other voter ID states.

Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that every citizen has the ability to vote to make his or her voice heard.

We will keep the Kos community updated with the latest on the Project - but please also check for updates on our website, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook!

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Welcome to VoteRiders’ third installment of Do You Really Want Your Right to Vote Determined by the DMV?

Today we share Raymond’s story. Like many in the pre-Civil Rights-era South, Raymond Rutherford was born in his home in Sumter County, South Carolina. The midwife who delivered him misspelled his first name and put his mother’s maiden name as his last name on his birth certificate. His voter registration card, tax returns and pay stubs all bear his correct name. Because of the discrepancy between these records and his birth certificate, Raymond couldn’t get the ID he needed to vote without obtaining a delayed birth certificate (the same type of complicated and expensive document we mentioned in the first installment of this series). In order to secure a delayed birth certificate, Raymond would need the services of an attorney, which he certainly couldn't afford. Fortunately for Raymond, he was able to get help from Dr. Brenda Williams’ organization, The Family Unit, a nonprofit whose mission includes the encouragement of voter participation. Obtaining a delayed birth certificate can take months. Like the other citizens we’ve highlighted in past installments, Raymond has voted in every election since he turned 18.

Luckily for Raymond, South Carolina’s voter ID law was put on hold until 2013 so he was able to vote last month. Dr. Williams continues to work with countless others in South Carolina who have the same problem as Raymond. According to Dr. Williams:

…these individuals all have social security numbers, Medicare numbers, and many receive Supplemental Security Income. Millions of these persons receive Medicaid. In other words, all of these citizens already are well-known to our federal government as well as state governments. The vast majority of them have paid taxes in their lifetimes and many of them still are paying taxes.... just as is the case of Mr. Raymond Rutherford.

I feel that they suffer discrimination and prejudicial treatment in this country and are denied civil rights, human rights as well as voting rights due to them being born during a time in our country when documentation of births was not considered important by government officials.

Do you share some of Dr. Williams’ frustration? We’ve featured only three stories of just how difficult it can be to procure the underlying documents necessary to ultimately obtain identification that can be required to vote. These three individuals represent thousands of others across the country. So, you ask - what are we doing about this? Tune in on Friday when we’ll share our plans!

                                                 VoteRiders.com

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Welcome to VoteRiders’ second installment of Do You Really Want Your Right to Vote Determined by the DMV?

This week we introduce you to Laura. She reached out to VoteRiders for help to obtain identification she needed to vote. Laura recently moved to Indiana from California. She is divorced and kept her married name as her legal name. She has a birth certificate, social security card, a United States Department of Veterans Affairs ID, a divorce decree and a California photo ID. When Laura sought her Indiana state ID, she was refused because the last name on her birth certificate doesn’t match the last name on her other documents. The state is requiring Laura to produce a marriage certificate to follow the thread from her maiden name to the name she legally and currently uses.  

In Laura’s words: “I had assumed any intelligent individual (or agency) would make the connection that if I had divorce papers, I was obviously married and hence the name change.”

Yes, you would think!  

Laura had to sign, notarize and mail her marriage certificate request to California.  THEN the waiting period began. VoteRiders connected Laura with an attorney to see how the process could be expedited.

Unfortunately, Laura didn’t receive the form in time and was unable to vote on November 6th. This United States military veteran has voted in every election since she turned 18.

Many other Americans were disenfranchised just like Laura on Election Day.  An eligible citizen’s right to vote is often being determined by policies and regulations that don’t make sense and seem counter-intuitive. For example, many birth certificate applications require the applicant to submit a photo ID. There are plenty of people who are seeking their birth certificate because they need a photo ID!

Stay tuned for our next installment of Do You Really Want Your Right to Vote Determined by the DMV? and for information on what VoteRiders has planned to address the issue.

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Welcome to VoteRiders’ first installment of Do You Really Want Your Right to Vote Determined by the DMV?

Leading up to the election many people asked, “What’s the big deal?” when considering the issue of voter identification. Well, we plan to reveal exactly what the big deal is. The following is the first in a series of true stories of just how difficult it can be for individuals to obtain an ID.  

Our first story involves a 53-year-old woman in Philadelphia with a debilitating case of rheumatoid arthritis who wanted an ID for voting. A key document she needed to present is her birth certificate. Delivered by midwife at her home in Virginia, her birth was not officially reported to the state. So it’s necessary to create a “delayed” birth certificate: an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process that required the assistance of an attorney. Fortunately for her, the Face to Face Legal Center in Philadelphia offers free legal services to help individuals obtain government identification.

Among the documents needed for a delayed birth certificate is the existing birth certificate; so the Center had to order her birth record, in order to submit the letter showing that she has no birth certificate. At all. What?  

Next came the trip to PennDOT (Pennsylvania’s DMV) to get her ID. While her illness makes it excruciatingly uncomfortable to be mobile, she was forced to ultimately make four, hours-long trips. She was looking forward to getting her ID, as the PA Department of State’s voter helpline told her she did not need to show a birth certificate after all. Unfortunately she learned during her first visit that she did indeed need to produce a birth certificate since she was born out of state. Of course, she did not have this document nor would she be able to procure it in time for the election. Her attorney then helped her gather documents to prove her birth, including a certified school record. After the state’s voter ID requirements lessened so she now didn’t need to show a birth certificate, her second visit to PennDOT was unsuccessful for lack of her social security card. The next day, after another four hours at PennDOT, the woman was falsely informed she needed to present a voter registration card to prove that she was registered to vote and was turned away yet again. When the woman returned to PennDOT the following week for her fourth visit, she finally obtained the newly minted Voter Only ID card. (Side note: All this not to mention that she ultimately didn’t even need it for this election! She most likely will need it in the future though as the law may well be back in effect next year.)

So we see (and probably have experienced!) that bureaucracies must obey administrative regulations that make you cross-eyed just reading them, much less understanding them. The documents that explain the requirements for creating a delayed birth record are several pages long and can be confusing. Even attorneys have been confused when handling these cases.

As you can imagine, those most affected by voter ID laws - women (who’ve changed their names), people of color, young adults (including students attending school in other states), individuals with disabilities or low income, and older adults - can be intimidated by this whole process and have difficulty in advocating for themselves with governmental authorities.

This is just one in a countless number of stories.  Stay tuned for our next installment of Do You Really Want Your Right to Vote Determined by the DMV?

                                              www.VoteRiders.com

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Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:43 AM PST

Voter ID: What Next?

by VoteRiders

VoteRiders transformed into Voter ID News Central from 4:00am to 7:30pm PT on Election Day. Our goal - to serve as a national voter ID news source for the media and the public – was achieved.

We posted “Top Stories” in the form of news articles, videos, and most importantly, VoteRiders original content analysis, all of which are available at VoteRiders.com.  

Our Vote Live Reports provide a large sample of voter ID-specific calls to the Election Protection hotline throughout the day.

Our Election Day Videos from Video the Vote feature citizens who shared their experience with potential disenfranchisement due to voter ID.

What did we learn from this process?

The VoteRiders Team emerged from our 16-hour “voter ID bubble” to make the connection between what we were seeing happen on the ground to what we were watching unfold before our eyes as colorless states turned blue or red on a map. The latter is what most of the world sees. What most Americans don’t see is what we witnessed during the electoral process: thousands of cases of disenfranchisement.  

We know that untold thousands – potentially millions – will lose their fundamental right to vote in the next few years as injunctions and laws are overturned and new laws are passed.

VoteRiders exists to help eligible citizens obtain the ID they need in order to vote. Our work lies within a much larger context of civil rights and civic engagement. Underneath the simple visual of a state turning red or blue are citizen stories. American stories that VoteRiders brings to the mainstream so everyone’s voice is heard.

VoteRiders Future

There are two key points of vulnerability for citizens who lack current valid identification: the need for documents like a birth certificate and assistance through the bureaucratic maze. Stay connected with us through our website, Facebook, and Twitter as we move forward and create efficient and cost-effective programs to address these challenges so that citizens do not continue to be disenfranchised.

If you would like VoteRiders to persevere in these efforts as well as to be your source for voter ID news, please consider contributing to preserve this cornerstone of our democracy.

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                                                   by Steven M. Kamp

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