Rosey Ruiz: Exercising the right to vote after time served

Rosey Ruiz: Exercising the right to vote after time served

Rosey Ruiz of Houston, Texas, is the founder of a nonprofit organization that helps men who have been in prison. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21

Rosey Ruiz of Houston, Texas, is the founder of Aspire to Win, a nonprofit that helps men who have been in prison for 10 years or more.

Ruiz draws from her own experience; she was sent to prison on felony convictions in 1985 and released in 1994. Ruiz said she is fortunate to live in a state where voting rights are restored to those who complete parole.

“Voting is very, very important, of course you lose your right to vote once you get a felony, but our right to vote is so important,” Ruiz said. “As soon as I got off paper, immediately, on the first day, I went down and registered to vote so that my voice can be heard. I feel like I have a choice today and that means a lot to me, and I have a say so on who can be put in office.”

By Lizzie Chen, News21

Wisconsin voter law could limit student vote

Ellie Ganz, a 19-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin, said she’s not very political, but protests and commotion near the school’s Madison campus last fall were hard to ignore.

Ganz and other students had a front-row seat to the state capital protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to limit collective bargaining rights for public employees. Some students, however, might not be able to participate in the election Tuesday.

Wisconsin’s voter ID provision is on hold, but not all of the law. A judge has suspended the requirement that voters show ID at the polls, but a 28-day residency requirement — an increase from the previous 10-day rule — remains in effect.

Voters must reside in an “election ward for at least 28 consecutive days and have no present intent to move,” according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB). The board released a memorandum May 17 informing students of the changes to the election law residency requirement.

The requirement might keep students away from the polls, said Mike Browne, the deputy director of the liberal-leaning non-profit One Wisconsin Now.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how that younger vote turns out,” Browne said. “Because they’re not massed in the same kind of densities like they are in a normal November election, and there’s been the change in law that is going to make it more difficult for them to vote in this election.”

By Tasha Khan and AJ Vicens, News21

South Carolina women recall the struggle to obtain photo IDs

The state is locked in a federal court battle with the U.S. Department of Justice over the South Carolina voter ID law, which would require voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls.

Four South Carolina women shared their experiences in obtaining the necessary documents to apply for photo identification.

South Carolina women recall the struggle to obtain photo IDs

Brenda Williams displays her father’s 1961 NAACP membership card. Photo by Caitlin O'Donnell/News21

Brenda Williams

Brenda Williams carries in her wallet her father’s NAACP card – a constant
reminder that, 51 years after it was issued for a $2 membership fee, the fight for equal
access to the polls continues.

For three decades, Williams and her husband, Joe, have helped register voters in Sumter, S.C. She estimates she has spent thousands of dollars and countless hours assisting low-income voters – the majority of whom are African-American – obtain the necessary documents to gain a government-issued photo ID.


South Carolina women recall the struggle to obtain photo IDs

Donna Dubose, a Sumter resident, lived most of her life with an incorrect birth certificate. Photo by Caitlin O'Donnell/News21

Donna Dubose

Many elderly voters in rural South Carolina were delivered by midwives who were not bound by state regulation when recording births.

Donna Dubose, a Sumter resident, was listed as “Baby Girl Kennedy” on her birth certificate until this year, when she obtained a corrected document, with the help of a local judge.

“Man makes wonders, but God works miracles and when he makes miracles, you don’t even know how to take it,” she said, describing her effort to obtain the



South Carolina women recall the struggle to obtain photo IDs

Naomi Gordon's name was misspelled on her birth certificate. Photo by Caitlin O'Donnell/News21

Naomi Gordon

Naomi Gordon also fell victim to a midwife’s mistake. On her South Carolina birth certificate, her first name is spelled Lnnoi. She worked independently for years to correct her birth certificate and obtain a photo ID, until she could no longer afford it and sought help from Brenda Williams. A lifelong voter, Gordon said the sudden obstacle is disheartening.

“Sometimes it’s hurting because you have that right and all of a sudden all this is coming
about,” she said.

South Carolina women recall the struggle to obtain photo IDs

Thelma Hodge spent five years trying to obtain a birth certificate. Photo by Caitlin O'Donnell/News21

Thelma Hodge

After five years of obstacles, Thelma Hodge just recently received a copy of her birth
certificate. Hodge estimated that she spent at least $1,000 for it.

Hodge felt that a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, she said, and she now feels like a real person with an unquestioned identity.

“When you don’t have those things as a person, it makes you feel left out when other people have theirs,” she said. “It feels real good.”

By Caitlin O’Donnell, News21