And possibly handed him the whole election.
You can’t say Andrea Anthony didn’t try. A 37-year-old African American woman with an infectious smile, Anthony had voted in every major election since she was 18. On November 8, 2016, she went to the Clinton Rose Senior Center, her polling site on the predominantly black north side of Milwaukee, to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton. “Voting is important to me because I know I have a little, teeny, tiny voice, but that is a way for it to be heard,” she said. “Even though it’s one vote, I feel it needs to count.”
She’d lost her driver’s license a few days earlier, but she came prepared with an expired Wisconsin state ID and proof of residency. A poll worker confirmed she was registered to vote at her current address. But this was Wisconsin’s first major election that required voters—even those who were already registered—to present a current driver’s license, passport, or state or military ID to cast a ballot. Anthony couldn’t, and so she wasn’t able to vote.
The poll worker gave her a provisional ballot instead. It would be counted only if she went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new ID and then to the city clerk’s office to confirm her vote, all within 72 hours of Election Day. But Anthony couldn’t take time off from her job as an administrative assistant at a housing management company, and she had five kids and two grandkids to look after. For the first time in her life, her vote wasn’t counted.
I met Anthony on a rainy Wednesday evening in mid-August. She had recently moved to Madison for a job making sales calls for the health insurance company Humana and was living in an Econo Lodge off the freeway with two of her kids and her mother-in-law as she looked for permanent housing. “This particular election was very important to me,” she told me in the motel’s small lobby, citing her strong aversion to Donald Trump. “I felt like the right to vote was being stripped away from me.”
Anthony said her 19-year-old daughter and 21-year-old nephew, who didn’t drive regularly and had misplaced their licenses, were also stymied by the new law. “It was their first election, and they were really excited to vote,” she said. But they didn’t go to the polls because they knew their votes wouldn’t count. Both had planned to vote for Clinton.