Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WI whistleblower fired for speaking out against DOT's Voter ID policy

Although the mass protests have been over for some time and recall elections have taken place, all is not well in Wisconsin. Besides union busting, the Wisconsin legislature has also passed a new voter ID law, a favorite of conservatives considering similar laws in 38 other states. The law requires voters to carry an up-to-date photo ID, such as a driver's license. However, Wisconsin's Department of Transportation has made is a policy not to inform voters that new ID's can be obtained for free. Rather, the DOT is only giving out free ID's for those who specifically ask for them. Otherwise, the DOT is effectively charging people $28 just to vote. Wisconsin's Pierce County Herald reports on just how dirty politics within that state is becoming:

MADISON - A man who worked in a state government mailroom was fired today, after he e-mailed all employees in his department about the DOT’s policy not to tell people they can get free photo ID’s.
Madison talk radio host Sly Sylvester said 38-year-old Chris Larsen was let go from the state Department of Safety and Professional Services. Larsen said his firing was quote, “insane.” The department’s executive assistant, John Murray, confirmed the move – but he said the firing was being reviewed.
Murray said Larsen violated some work rules, including inappropriate e-mail usage. His e-mail today said people should who need free photo ID’s should ask for them at state motor vehicle offices – and anyone they know without an ID should do the same. Larsen worked as a limited-term state employee since last December. A top DOT official put out a memo telling motor vehicle employees not to volunteer that they offer free ID’s, but to provide them if people ask. Otherwise, they have to pay 28-dollars – the cost of a driver’s license. The free ID’s are part of the law which requires Wisconsin voters to show photo identification at the polls starting next February.
Wisconsin is not a stand alone case. As the Rolling Stone reported, there have so far been 12 other states that have enacted new obstacles to voting, which could potentially disenfranchise thousands of elderly, low income and minority voters.

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