Plaintiff In Voter ID Case Reflects On Federal Court Victory

86-Year-Old Ruthelle Frank Filed Suit Against Scott Walker After Refusing To Get Birth Certificate

Ruthelle Frank, 86, holding her certificate of baptism, which is not sufficient to qualify for a photo ID under Wisconsin law. Photo: Glen Moberg/WPR.

Tuesday’s decision by a federal judge to strike down Wisconsin’s voter ID law was a victory for plaintiff Ruthelle Frank, an elderly woman from Brokaw who was propelled into the national limelight after refusing to get a birth certificate.

Frank, who is 86 years old, is being hailed by some as a civil rights hero, although she’s a reluctant celebrity.

“They think I’ve touched all 50 states,” said Frank. “But I know I’ve touched all the corners of the U.S. because I’ve had people call me from Florida, I’ve had people from Washington, people from Pennsylvania.“

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Those states are ones where Republican governors, like Gov. Scott Walker, have passed voter I.D. laws, which they say are needed to prevent fraud. Frank says the laws are designed to keep people from voting – elderly people like her, minorities, and poor people.

“And I feel so sorry for the people that don’t have an education, even that I had,” said Frank. “And just because you don’t have that education, you can’t vote?”

Frank has never had a driver’s license because she’s handicapped. She never got a birth certificate, and was told that without one, she could no longer vote, even though she was an elected official in Brokaw.

“I wouldn’t pay up to $200 to get a birth certificate,” said Frank. “See, I would have been probably what, 84, when I started this mess?“

Frank says she’s happy with the judge’s decision, and if the state of Wisconsin appeals, she will continue fighting.

“We’re glad, and I hope we can march on further, as long as I can speak,” said Frank.

Frank says she has voted in every election since 1948.