The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Charge for voter IDs is poll tax, ACLU says

The Chippewa Valley chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union recently sent a letter to the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate  stating that having students pay $2 for university-supplied voter IDs is considered a poll tax and goes against the 24th Amendment.

The 24th Amendment states that it is the right of every citizen to vote in any election and voters shall not be denied the right to vote due to a poll tax.

Stephanie Turner, an associate English professor at Eau Claire, serves as ACLU chapter president in the Chippewa Valley. She said she is upholding the ACLU values by offering help to citizens who are being deprived of their rights to vote.

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Turner said that university administrators need know that charging for the voter IDs is not in the best interest of the students.

“It’s a problem for any campus in the state to charge students, even a nominal fee, to obtain the state-sanctioned photo identification,” she said.

Turner asked that people having issues with the voter IDs come forth and contact the ACLU.

“The ACLU is really taking a leading position on this issue, in terms of trying to advocate for people who are disenfranchised by this law,” she said.

Eau Claire is currently the only UW System university that charges for the voter ID cards.

Student Senate President Phil Rynish said he and Vice President Mark Morgan were unsure of how many students would actually use the cards. The charge of $2 covers the lamination and printing on the ID.

“Anything we did try and do to put it into segregated fees was going to be a lot of guess work,” he said. “This way those that are using that service are paying for it directly rather than it being passed along all the other students.”

Rynish said that even if Eau Claire used segregated fees, it is not free — people are still paying to get the cards.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch, is there?” Rynish said. “If we move them to segregated fees, they’re not free, we’re just hiding the actual cost from the students.”

As of two weeks ago, there have been 28 students on campus who have purchased the new voter IDs, according to an article in the Leader-Telegram.

Freshman Mirielle Francis purchased a voter ID. Her first voting experience was the school board election.

Francis said that the voter ID law directly targets college students and quiets the student voice.

“It makes it hard to go out and vote, you have to bring so many different forms of identification,” she said. “They may as well ask you for that shoe you wore in the
second grade.”

Francis said she understands that the law is for the well-being of elections and is to prevent voter fraud, but she thinks voter fraud is not as big an issue as it was ten years ago.

The reason Francis chose to get a voter ID card despite her objections to the law was that her driver’s license had expired while attending Eau Claire, making it an invalid form of identification.

“I want to vote and make sure my vote counts,” she said.

She said she wants more students to come out and participate in the elections. It’s important for educated people to get involved with the government — when a student votes it can make a big difference, Francis said.

“Make sure you know what the voter ID is about. You know what you need and you show up at the polls ready, because you only get one shot,” Francis said. “And if you don’t vote, you don’t get heard.”

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  • J

    James laugheadMar 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

    2.00, what would them prevent them from raising the cost from 10.00 or even 100.00 dollars. this is nothing but a poll tax, and effects the middle class and the poor,and the students. The Democrat party, should fight this as they will raise the taxes to implement this, plus the cost to brainwash the people to sell this garbage. It shouldn’t cost one stinking dime to vote, but the Republican Garbage, will do anything to destroy the Democrat party Vote!

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Charge for voter IDs is poll tax, ACLU says