Christine Krucki was born in Lublin, Wisconsin, in 1925. She first voted in the 1948 presidential election and has voted ever since. She’s an independent who has voted for John F. Kennedy but also Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But after Wisconsin passed its strict voter-ID law in 2011, Krucki lost her right to vote. She made three trips to the DMV, bringing an Illinois photo ID, proof of residence in Wisconsin, a birth certificate and her marriage certificate but could not get a Wisconsin photo ID for voting.
Krucki first traveled to the DMV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in June 2013 with her daughter. “My mother does not have an unexpired passport, Wisconsin-issued photo ID, or any other kind of photo acceptable for voting,” her daughter, Sharon Erickson, said in a court declaration filed by the ACLU. Krucki lived in Illinois most of her life, before moving to Wisconsin five years ago, and no longer drives. She brought her Illinois photo ID, a bank statement and an insurance statement to the DMV. But DMV workers said she needed a birth certificate to get a Wisconsin ID for voting.
The problem was that Krucki was born on a farm and didn’t know where her birth certificate was. Erickson called the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and paid $20 for her birth certificate. However, her Polish last name, “Zaszczurynski,” was spelled “Zaszcronynska” instead.
She brought the birth certificate with her on a second trip to the DMV, but the DMV once again would not issue her a voter ID because the birth certificate didn’t match her current last name, Krucki, which she adopted after getting married. They said she’d have to obtain her marriage certificate from Illinois. Erickson paid $15 to get the marriage certificate from Cook County, Illinois, but it listed her maiden name as “Bandys” because Krucki had adopted that name, rather than the Polish name Zaszczurynski, after moving in with her stepsister in her 20s.
Krucki made a third trip to the DMV, but could still not get a voter ID because the maiden name on her Illinois marriage certificate did not match the name on her Wisconsin birth certificate. They said she’d have to change the name on her Illinois marriage certificate. “She almost went over the counter at the DMV, she was so mad,” her daughter told me.
Erickson called the courthouse in Cook County and they said it would cost between $150–300 to amend her mother’s Illinois marriage certificate. A clerk in Eau Claire said there was a “chance” a Wisconsin judge would amend her mother’s documents if they paid $300 in court fees. At that point, Erickson gave up trying to get her mother a Wisconsin voter ID.
The April 5, 2016, presidential primary in Wisconsin was the first election in her life in which Krucki was unable to vote.
After Governor Scott Walker said the voter-ID law “works just fine,” Erickson wrote an angry letter to the governor telling her mother’s story. “We want you to know how the law that you supported and signed into law affects your constituency in an extremely negative way,” she wrote. “Why are the Wisconsin Republicans as well as the Republicans nationwide attempting to rig elections by stifling the right to vote of good and honest Americans?”