Updated: September 8, 2011, 4:40 PM
Chris Larsen, a low-level Wisconsin state employee, was fired for the apparent cause of using his work e-mail to mock and disparage state policy to his co-workers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The policy in question: The state’s decision for DMV employees to not tell citizens about the availability of free photo identification to satisfy the state’s new Voter-ID law, unless they ask first.
Larsen, a limited-term employee at the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, sent this e-mail Thursday morning to colleagues, encouraging them to tell all their friends about the free ID cards:
“Do you know someone who votes that does not have a State ID that meets requirements to vote? Tell them they can go to the DMV/DOT and get a free ID card. However they must ask for the free ID. a memo was sent out by the 3rd in command of the DMV/DOT. The memo specifically told the employees at the DMV/DOT not to inform individuals that the ID’s are free. So if the individuals seeking to get the free ID does not ask for a free ID, they will have to pay for it!!
“Just wanted everyone to be informed!! REMEMBER TO TELL ANYONE YOU KNOW!! ANYONE!! EVEN IF THEY DON’T NEED THE FREE ID, THEY MAY KNOW SOMEONE THAT DOES!! SO TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!”
He was subsequently fired for misuse of e-mail.
The option of free photo identification, for people who do not otherwise have driver’s licenses or other ID cards that would meet the new law’s requirements, is necessary in order to prevent the law from clearly becoming a poll tax — a tax or fee required in order to vote, which was made unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1964. Unless applicants check the appropriate box on the DMV’s new forms, indicating that they need the card for voting, there will be a fee of $28.
The memo in question written by Steve Krieser, executive secretary at the Department of Transportation, instructs DMV employees: “While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it.”
Ed Note: An earlier version of this post identified Chris Larsen as having worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. He worked for the Department of Safety and Professional Services. The post has been corrected.