Let’s just say it right up front: A Medicare card is not an ID. It doesn’t have a photo. It doesn’t have an address. It doesn’t have eye color or hair color. It is printed on paper that can be purchased at your local office supply store. It is an insurance card, just like the Blue Cross/Blue Shield one I carry in my wallet with my name and insurance policy number.
The fact that a Medicare card is on the list of acceptable forms of “identification” included in House Bill 75 – Voter identification — which is steaming its way through the Wyoming Legislature — is a real indication of how serious a problem voter fraud is in Wyoming. It isn’t.
House Bill 75 is a non-serious solution searching for a non-existent problem, but it is just the first move in a more insidious effort to make it more difficult to vote in Wyoming.
And one only needs to look at the original list of acceptable forms of ID in sponsor Rep. Chuck Gray’s (R-Casper) bill to see who is being targeted. Student IDs were not included, and tribal IDs as they currently exist were not included. Both are government-issued and contain way more information than a Medicare card. But isn’t that the point?
Older, white folks aren’t the ones that Rep. Gray is targeting for disenfranchisement. Young people, Indigenous people, people with limited resources are indeed being singled out in this bill.
Fortunately, there have been some improvements since the bill’s introduction — tribal IDs are in. Student IDs are in. But still, nearly all the acceptable IDs listed in the HB 75 cost money: a driver’s license is $40; a Tribal ID is $20. Plus there’s the cost and hassle of getting to the Department of Motor Vehicles on a day when they are open (in Dubois the fourth Monday of the month!).
All except the Medicare card. Turn 65, fill out a form online and boom, your flimsy, paper card with your name and your insurance policy number arrives in the mail, and you are good to vote in Wyoming! It isn’t really an ID, but it is apparently good enough for Gray.
And make no mistake, the Wyoming Republican Party is just getting started. If it has its way, it will soon be more challenging for every Wyoming resident to vote. Including Republicans. At a recent GOP meeting, party members passed a resolution that absentee ballots “be restricted to only members of the U.S. military who are deployed outside the State or those with valid reasons (e.g., work-related, school, disability, distance) preventing them from voting at the polling location.”
In the 2020 general election, more than half of the people voting in Wyoming did so using an absentee ballot. It was convenient, and Wyoming’s county clerks and the Secretary of State’s Office did an excellent job to provide a smooth, safe and efficient process. And guess what? More than 47% of Wyoming’s Republican voters chose to vote early. And the Medicare crowd, Wyoming’s largest voting bloc? Nearly 70% voted early.
The “solutions” Gray and the Wyoming Republican Party espouse do nothing to improve Wyoming elections. They only advance a national talking point that elections are rigged (they aren’t) and make it harder for Wyoming voters to participate. Not just for Democrats and Independents. They make it harder for the vast majority of Wyoming voters — Republicans!