Thursday, January 10, 2008

Voter ID Poster Child Busted

This is just wonderful. A 72-year-old woman the opponents of Voter ID have been holding up as an example of how Indiana's Voter ID law unfairly burdens some voters turns out to be something less than a good example. She has claimed a homestead exemption on homes she owns in both Florida and Indiana and is registered to vote in both states. When confronted with the evidence, the woman said she was "confused" and she was the victim. As the Evening Star reports:

On the eve of a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Indiana Voter ID law has become a story with a twist: One of the individuals used by opponents to the law as an example of how the law hurts older Hoosiers is registered to vote in two states.

Faye Buis-Ewing, 72, who has been telling the media she is a 50-year resident of Indiana, at one point in the past few years alsoclaimed two states as her primary residence and received a homestead exemption on her property taxes in both states.
Monday night from her Florida home, Ewing said she and her husband Kenneth “winter in Florida and summer in Indiana.” She admitted to registering to vote in both states, but stressed that she¹s never voted in Florida. She also has a Florida driver’s license, but when she tried to use it as her photo ID in the Indiana elections in November 2006, poll workers wouldn’t accept it.

Subsequently, Ewing became a sort-of poster child for the opposition when the Indiana League of Women Voters (ILWV) told media that the problems Ewing had voting that day shows why the high court should strike it down.

But Indiana Republican Secretary of State Todd Rokita said Monday that Ewing’s tale illustrates exactly why Indiana needs the law. “This shows that the Indiana ID law worked here, which also calls into question why the critics are so vehemently against this law, especially with persons like this, who may not have a legal right to vote in this election,” Rokita said . . .

According to Ewing and Ann Nucatola, public information director for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Ewing surrendered her Indiana driver¹s license in 2000, when she moved to Florida and obtained her Florida license. Nucatola said that a driver must have a Florida address to obtain a Florida driver¹s license.

“And if they own property in two states they have to get a license that says ‘valid in Florida only,’” Nucatola said. Ewing said Monday that her license is a “regular” one that she uses in both states. She renewed it in 2007 on a Punta Gorda, Fla. address.

At the Charlotte County, Fla. voter registration office, Sandy Wharton, vote qualifying office manager, said Ewing registered to vote in Charlotte County on Sept. 18, 2002, and signed an oath that she was a Florida resident and understood that falsifying the voter application was a third-degree felony punishable by prison and a fine up to $5,000. Wharton said her office checked Ewing’s Florida residency and qualified her on Oct. 2, 2002. On Oct. 4, 2002, they mailed her Florida voter card to her, to the West Lafayette, Ind. address that Ewing gave as a mailing address.

However, Ewing didn’t vote in Florida that year, nor has she ever voted in Charlotte County, Wharton said. But, just a month after receiving her Florida voter card, she did vote in the November 2002 elections in Tippecanoe County, Ind., according to Heather Maddox, co-director of elections and registration in Tippecanoe.

Ewing confirmed that she is registered in both states to vote, but at first said the Florida registration came automatically with her driver’s license. She repeatedly denied signing the oath on the Florida application. She also said Indiana mailed her an absentee ballot, but she didn’t use it or vote that year.

However, Heather Maddox, co-director of election registration in Tippecanoe County, said Ewing voted in Indiana in 2002, 2003 and 2004, before the Indiana ID law took effect in 2005.

When informed that the Florida voter office said she’d registered personally in 2002 for a Florida voter card, and that this newspaper had a copy of her application, Ewing said, “Well, why did I do that? I'm confused. I can’t recall.” She reiterated that, even though she’s registered in two states, she only votes in Indiana, adding that she does have a car plated in Florida.

That doesn’t satisfy Florida officials. “She can only be registered to vote in the place where she claims residency, Wharton said. “You can’t be registered in two states. She has to claim one place or the other.”

Ordinarily when someone registers to vote in Florida, the state informs the election board where the applicant was previously registered. But according to Wharton, Ewing did not inform Florida that she was ever registered to vote anywhere else.

“She signed an oath saying she was a qualified elector and a legal resident of Florida,” Wharton said. “And the space where she was supposed to tell us where she was previously registered, she left blank.”

A check with Charlotte County, Fla.’s online property tax records shows that Ewing owns property there. One requirement in Florida to claim homestead is to show a valid voter ID or sign an affidavit of residency – which she did when she applied for her voter card there. She claimed a homestead exemption on the Florida property in 2003 – the same time she was claiming a homestead exemption on property she owned in Indiana, according to Tippecanoe deputy auditor Heather Satler. Satler said that Ewing’s Indiana exemption began in 1994 and ended in 2004, when the exemption was removed because the state discovered she wasn't living there.

Tuesday Ewing said the homestead “problem came up” when she married in 2002. “But that was taken care of,” she said. She also said her main residence is in Indiana, and that she pays “some” taxes in Indiana on a “small annuity” she receives.

“But I feel like I’m a victim here,” Ewing said. “I never intended to do anything wrong. I know a lot of people in Florida in this same situation – they call us ‘Snowbirds,’ you know.”


It's too bad this little gem didn't surface during Wednesday's oral argument in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. A big hat tip to Hoosier Pundit for catching this story.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please mention that the original frivolous suit contained information about (D) BMV worker, Constance Andrews. The suit stated that she did not have proper ID and could not obtain it.....the BMV worker did have ID issued by the BMV. During her deposition, she was also "confused" when confronted with direct evidence of perjury.

Anonymous said...

In fact, before arguing before SCOTUS, the Democrat Party plaintiff has not introduced evidence of a
single, individual Indiana resident who was unable to vote as a result of SEA 483 or who had his or her right to vote unduly burdened by its requirements.

The Dems should pay for the defense of this frivilous suit, which one judge compared to throwing wet tissue against a wall to see if it would stick!

Anonymous said...

So, when is Jen going to comment on either of her blogs or did the spinning wheel break?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that this poor elderly woman can travel from Indiana to Florida, but it must be impossible for her to travel to a BMV to get an ID card for voting purposes. Is that not what the argument for the elderly is? I'm not sure what the actual argument is as to why the elderly would be dienfranchised by this law.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely priceless. This is what the Dems and the ACLU are all about. Smoke and mirrors.

b said...

Classic. Everyone's always trying to game the system. Especially old people licensing their cars in Florida to avoid excise tax.

Anonymous said...

The idea that you can register in two places is not an uncommon belief among seniors, in my experience, anyway. A relative of mine (who shall remain nameless) was registered (as a Republican!) in the Midwest and in Arizona, and when family members figured it out and chastised him, he said "It's fine. I'm only actually voting in one state. I vote in the primary in Iowa and the election in Arizona. There's nothing wrong; I'm not voting twice."

All of the seniors in his senior RV park in Arizona were assured it was "all right" by a college Republican with a clipboard who swung through the park and double-registered them at one fell swoop.

Anonymous said...

Notice that Wilson Allen is being VERY QUIET on this issue?
Hit a little too close to home there, Wilson?

Karen Celestino-Horseman said...

Note that she registered in 2002 in Florida but never voted in any Florida election. She only voted in Indiana. If she had voted in both elections, then that would be another matter.

Also, the Voter ID Law would do nothing to prevent someone from registering in all the states, so long as they have an Indiana ID.

No foul here. If you want to read about others who were actually impacted, then read the brief of the League of Women Voters, who provided illustrations of persons impacted by the law. http://www.brennancenter.org/

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry, Karen. This story was just too good to pass up.

Karen Celestino-Horseman said...

Gary, I understand and I know you support the Voter ID Law. But I think you should also ask how this story originated. Does anyone really believe that the local northeast Indiana news operation that "broke" this "story" actually uncovered it on their own? When the people came forward in Georgia in the opposition to Georgia's Voter ID law, a lot of dollars were spent on trying to dig-up dirt on the voters who provided affidavits.

And people wonder why individuals are afraid to come forward with their stories?

Angry Republican said...

Karen said:
"...If you want to read about others who were actually impacted, then read the brief of the League of Women Voters..."

Well, if there were these people who were indeed disenfranchised, why didn't the plaintiffs raise them during the trial court, or even bring them up in the Supreme Court yesterday?

AR

Anonymous said...

I always love a good dose of irony.

This is indeed an excellent example of why we need the voter ID requirement. And fewer faux confused seniors.

Anonymous said...

Note that she registered in 2002 in Florida but never voted in any Florida election. She only voted in Indiana. If she had voted in both elections, then that would be another matter.

Wrong. The problem is that because she is registered in Florida, this allowed her to get a Florida license with interstate travel rights. This is the same issue that some Purdue student complained about. He declared Indiana his home state, yet was originally from New Jersey. He wanted to keep his New Jersey license, even though he would be violating the law if he continued to drive in this state with that license. He plated his car in Indiana, likely because it was cheaper than New Jersey. Sorry, but we cannot have people who can be registered in two places to vote. Just because one hasn't voted in both places in the past doesn't mean it can't happen.

And people wonder why individuals are afraid to come forward with their stories?

This lady was not disenfranchised. She could easily have voted at home, which is Florida. She choose to play the "it's cheaper in Florida" game by declaring residency there so it would cost less money to plater her vehicles there. She then went and got a full-interstate travel rights Florida driver's license. As soon as she did that, she made her residency here at her Indiana home defunct. Now she wants to complain because she would rather vote at her vacation home instead of her actual home of Florida? Sorry, that doesn't fly. If she wants to vote in Indiana, she needs to be an Indiana resident. However, that would mean a little bit more money when it comes to registering vehicles and such. It would also mean that if she were in debt, the home in Florida _might_ be able to be taken (Florida has some strong laws protecting homes from seizure/liens). What this lady is about is fraud, pure and simple. She made a choice: Florida. She now wants to complain because she can't vote while at the vacation home in Indiana. Typical.

I am glad folks are showing these frauds for who they are. Our state is hurting for money, yet folks like this fly down to Florida, buy what is really a vacation home, claim it as their main residence, then plate their cars so they don't have to help out Indiana where they do most of their driving/living. If anyone really can't get an ID, then all they need to do is come forward. Obviously their background will be checked. Heaven forbid someone doing some checking finds out that this person can somehow get an ID. Wouldn't that be a good thing? If they can't, then the anti-ID folks would have all the proof they want in that one person.

Anonymous said...

Do the Dem's have no shame or honesty about them at all?

Get over it. She lived in Florida, she had a Florida Drivers License, she was registered to vote in Florida, she owned property in Florida and was claiming a Florida Property Tax Exemption. Duh, she's a Florida resident and needs to vote there.

So do the Dem's think that if you start driving around and vote in whatever precinct that you happen to land in for the day.

Let's just all follow the candidates around and vote in multiple jurisdictions. Oh wait, the Dem's already do that. Now, I understand the outcry for not wanting photo ID.

Gary, shame on you for wanting to disenfranchise the residents of Crown Hill their voting rights.

Anonymous said...

I thought Wilson's Mom was dead.

Cindy said...

Although these comments are now 3 years old, I feel compelled to answer Karen's questions about whether a small Indiana newspaper could uncover the Faye Buis-Ewing story on their own. Well, sorry, Karen but they did -- I mean, I did, because I am the author of that story. I didn't see your comments until now though, so I'm telling you how this came about. Two days before it went to the Supreme Court, I was assigned to do a story on the law. So, as any good reporter should do, I decided to read the briefs of both parties before I wrote about it. As I read the League of Women Voters brief, I stumbled at Ms. Ewing's story and knew I had a story no one else did. How did I know that? I lived in Florida for 15 years, that's how. And I knew that you absolutely can NOT get a driver's license, car plates or voter registration without declaring residency there -- which means she couldn't be eligible to vote in Indiana, having declared residency in Florida. The rest is history. I found out about the homestead exemption because I wanted to prove her deception beyond a shadow of a doubt. You can claim a little mix-up, I suppose, with a driver's license, but it's a felony to claim homestead in Florida if you claim it somewhere else -- and there are some very specific things you must do to get that homestead exemption. So once I knew she was claiming homestead in both states, I knew she was a classic criminal -- as she said, lots of "snowbirds" do this. It's just going to take a little time and a few more voter ID laws to catch them. I don't think her intention was to commit voter fraud though. I think her intention was and is tax fraud/evasion.