-By Amanda Terkel
December 12, 2011- WASHINGTON — Rita Platt is a teacher in Wisconsin who moved to the small town of Osceola last year. She has gone through FBI background checks in the four states where she has been certified to teach, has her Social Security card, held a Wisconsin driver's license from 1984-1998 and currently has a driver's license from Iowa.
Despite all this, she is currently ineligible to vote in the 2012 elections in Wisconsin.
Platt is one of the growing number of people ensnared by the state's new voter ID law, which requires residents to show valid photo ID when they go to the polls to vote. While Platt is sure she'll be able to get her new license in time for the next elections, she's frustrated that in the end, she will be forced to pay more than $100, endure bureaucratic headaches and take time off from work in order to be able to carry out one of her constitutional rights.
Osceola is a small town in northwestern Wisconsin with a population of under 3,000 people. The two closest Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices are in the towns of Amery and New Richmond, which are approximately 30 minutes away, and rarely open. The Amery DMV is open from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on only the first Tuesday of every month. The New Richmond DMV is open during the same hours on the second Tuesday of every month.
The closest DMV open full-time during business hours is the one in Hudson, a city about an hour south of Osceola. Platt and her boyfriend, who also needed to get a new license, went there on their day off from work, only to find out that the DMV's computer system was down that day.
"So we drove an hour there. No matter what documentation we had had, we couldn't have gotten our driver's licenses, which is a huge problem, because that's what — $15 in gas both ways? We're upper-middle class, so we're doing fine. We're both teachers … But for some folks, that's an impossibility. So you have to have a car, you have to have enough gas to drive an hour there," she told The Huffington Post, outlining some of the difficulties involved in getting ID in order to vote.
Moreover, neither Platt nor her boyfriend, John Wolfe, had a certified birth certificate or a current passport, one of which is required to obtain a new license.
"My passport is long-expired," said Platt. "I have two small children. It costs money to re-up your passport, and I'm not going to be traveling anywhere until my kids are older … And I've moved every two years my whole adult life. I'm 42. I have no idea where my certified birth certificate is. I'm not sure I ever even had one, since I've never needed one before."
"It's not that I can't get my voter ID. I will get mine," added Platt, who said she is very active politically and has never missed an election. "It's just that there's a huge poll tax that's going to be upwards of $100 by the time I'm done."