Monday, May 5, 2008

HONORED VET ONE OF FIRST VICTIMS OF VOTER ID

NUVO - Russell Baughman, 61, has fought in three conflicts as a part of the United States Army. He was on the front lines in Vietnam in March of 1967 during a battle that has since become known as "the bloodiest week." He was sent to Panama shortly after the 1989 U.S. invasion as part of a security maintenance force. And he spent six months in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Gulf War in the early '90s.

His military discharge papers feature a paragraph's worth of honors and awards, like the national defense service medal, the Vietnam service medal with two bronze service stars, the combat/infantry badge and a purple heart for being wounded during combat.

So when Baughman arrived at his polling place at precinct 52 in Lawrence [IN] March 11 for the special election, he wasn't expecting to have a problem voting in the country he had defended.

But since Indiana passed its new Voter ID law, which requires every voter to have a valid, government-issued photo ID, Baughman's identification was no longer good enough.

He had with him his expired driver's license (he rides a bicycle), his Department of Veterans Affairs card (featuring his purple heart endorsement) and, of all things, his voter's registration card.

But Baughman was told that neither of his photo IDs were valid. His driver's license didn't count because it was expired and his Veterans Affairs card didn't count because it didn't feature any expiration date at all.

"I've been on the voting rolls since 1968," Baughman said, "and all of a sudden they expect my identity to change. There was no change."

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