My Letter to the State Elections Board
I am a resident of Madison, and I've served as an election official for the past decade. Since it's very difficult to get residents of the wards on the UW campus to staff the polls (especially since most of them have been back in town for only a couple of weeks), that's where I've been serving since the 2000 presidential election. Needless to say, we get a lot of practice registering new voters and dealing with changes of address. That's the function that I've spent most of my time on over the last 6 years.
Up thru last spring's non-partisan general election, we've been willing to accept as proof of residence:
• a subscription magazine with the person's name and address machine-printed on it.
• a yellow change-of-address notice from the USPS with the person's name and address machine-printed on it.
Beginning with this most recent election, the Madison city clerk's office has informed us that these are no good for establishing residence, and that this ruling came from the State Elections Board.
I want to know why.
We're supposed to be operating under the HELP America Vote Act, right? How does it HELP to turn citizens away? This is particularly appalling when we're dealing with enthusiastic young people -- many of them trying to vote for the very 1st time -- whose 1st experience with democracy turns out to be "Sorry, you can't have any."
If we can accept a scrawled signature from a landlord or a bill from a private corporation or the say-so of somebody who happens to be in the same botany class as the applicant, what's wrong with a printed document that's officially recognized (or even generated) by a branch of the US government?
This is a stupid, outrageous policy that undercuts the roots of democracy. Whoever's responsible for it should spend a few minutes contemplating the 1st 3 words of the Constitution, then take immediate action to reverse it so that we can REALLY help Americans vote.