DENIED: GOP Voter Laws Preventing US War Veterans From Voting

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Justice Ann Walsh Bradley recently urged Governor Scott Walker to consider veterans ID cards legitimate voter identification after her uncle, a World War II veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, was prevented from casting a ballot in a primary election. The reason he was ineligible? Because his veterans ID was not sufficient identification, reports Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel.

Bradley’s uncle, Leo Olson, is one of many war veterans who have been prevented from exercising one of the rights that they fought for, simply because they lack an acceptable form of ID — such as a driver’s license. In a letter to Governor Walker, Bradley wrote on behalf of her uncle, “It makes no sense to me that this proud patriot with a veterans card displaying his photo would be turned away from the polls and denied the right to vote.”

Bradley continued in her letter, telling the story of how her 90 year-old uncle was denied voting access.

‘When he presented his veterans administration card with his picture on it, he was told that the card was not listed as ‘acceptable’ proof of his identity. He responded: ‘You mean veterans can’t vote?”

Apparently the answer to Olson’s question is, yes. Veterans, if they do not have “acceptable” proof of identity, cannot vote, regardless of their service to the country in which they are trying to vote. It cannot be emphasized enough that what happened to Olson was not an isolated incident. Veterans, along with students, minorities, senior citizens, and the poor, are frequently denied the ability to cast their votes because of oppressive voter ID laws.

Another veteran affected by these voter ID laws is Gil Paar, who served in the United States Air Force from 1962 to 1966 before being honorably discharged. Paar, just like Olson, was prevented from using his veterans ID to vote in a local election. While Paar does have a driver’s license and could have voted, he decided to make a statement and withhold his vote to protest the injustice of the law. Of his veterans ID, Paar said, “It’s good enough for everything else, but it amazes me that it’s not good enough to use as identification to vote.”

Watch Paar’s story below, courtesy of Steelworkers via YouTube.

Featured image via kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)/Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.