A Huntsville woman, 92, who has lived in the same house in Huntsville for 57 years and voted in every election since she was eligible, was turned away from the polls today because her driver's license expired nine months ago. The voter, a great-grandmother to five, was deeply embarrassed by the whole incident and declined to talk directly with AL.com, but she gave her go-ahead for her neighbor, who took her to the polls, to relay the incident, with the provision that her name not be used.
We talked yesterday about Willie Mims, a 93-year-old Alabama voter, who was denied the right to vote yesterday because he didn't have the proper form of ID. Of course, before this year, he didn't need to produce additional materials to cast a ballot, but Republican officials in the state imposed a voter-ID law to address a voter-fraud problem that doesn't exist.
Mims wasn't alone.
The woman, whose name was not published, produced a driver's license, but election workers nevertheless denied her the right to cast a ballot -- because the license had expired. With failing eyesight, she had decided not to renew it.
The woman's neighbor told the local reporter, "As we walked in, we were talking about doing our constitutional duty. She's a very thoughtful citizen."
Conservative voter-suppression laws don't make exceptions for very thoughtful citizens -- and registered voters -- who've participated in elections their entire adult lives.
In this case, the woman was offered a provisional ballot, but she declined: "The elderly woman decided against casting a provisional ballot, because she was pretty certain she would not be able to arrange for the rides to get a new ID by Friday, the deadline for establishing identity under the new law."
Another neighbor asked, "What purpose did turning her away from the polls serve?"
That need not be a rhetorical question.
I suppose the right would respond that these are isolated incidents. Sure, we can identify a few people, here and there, who should be able to cast legal ballots but who are blocked because of voter-suppression laws. So long as the number remains fairly low, the argument may go, it's not too big a deal.
But if that is the response, it's important to know how wrong it is.
If even one voter has the right to cast a vote in their own democracy, and they're denied that opportunity because of onerous voting restrictions that seek to solve an imaginary problem, it is one too many.