This is the photo that has the country rallying around one guy and his inspiration today.
He's Frank Tanabe,93, and he's got liver cancer. He may not make it to Election Day, so his family helped him fill out his ballot.
The backstory comes from the Associated Press. Tanabe volunteered to serve in World War II from behind the barbed wire of the camp in which he was imprisoned because he was a Japanese American.
The Army assigned Tanabe to the Military Intelligence Service, a classified unit whose members were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last year along with soldiers who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team -- highly decorated segregated units of mostly Japanese-Americans.
"I'd like to accept on behalf of all hyphenated Americans, including American-Americans," Tanabe told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at the time. "We all served together in defense of our country."
Noah Tanabe, the grandson who posted the photo online, said he thinks about his grandfather every time he votes.
"It's hard to imagine - after his family business is torched, his family imprisoned, and denied the opportunity to finish his college education - he volunteered to serve. I don't know if I would have done the same thing, but we are all very proud of him," he said.
Last year at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Tanabe represented his unit in accepting the Congressional Gold Medal.
Sometimes the people you fear the most, the people who others once thought unworthy of the benefits of freedom, become the very picture of it.
What a country!
My guess is that he is living in a nursing home or some other type of care facility. My guess is that he didn't get a new drivers license with his new permanent address on it when he moved to the care facility. If so, he wouldn't be allowed to vote if the Voter ID amendment passes in two weeks. (Yes, he could vote if got a new drivers license, but should he have to do that just to be able to vote?)
I wish people who are voting Yes for the amendment knew who they are going to prevent from voting. I wish they knew that, even after the Minnesota election system was put under the microscope during the recounts in 2008 and 2010, that no evidence of voter impersonation was found and that is the only type of voter fraud that this amendment will prevent. They won't be preventing fraud by passing the amendment. They will be preventing true American heroes from exercising one right that they almost died for to protect.
// If so, he wouldn't be allowed to vote if the Voter ID amendment passes in two weeks. (Yes, he could vote if got a new drivers license, but should he have to do that just to be able to vote?) I wish people who are voting Yes for the amendment knew who they are going to prevent from voting.
I knew someone was going to bring that up and I looked it up but decided I didn't want to "pollute" the post by turning it into a Voter ID debate, taking away from this man's story.
The fact, however, is we don't know whether the gentleman would be allowed to vote. As Mark Ritchie told MinnPost:
It is not clear how a soldier in Baghdad or Kuwait City might meet the same requirements for establishing their residency, eligibility or identity as someone walking into their polling place in St. Cloud. If they cannot meet the “substantially equivalent” standard as required by the proposed amendment they would find it difficult if not impossible to vote. This difficulty may explain why every other state in the nation that has proposed new voting regulations similar to those being considered in Minnesota have automatically exempted military and almost all absentee and other mail-in voters.
The gentleman above may not have a valid ID, but we wouldn't know that because the next Legislature will determine what a "substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification" constitutes.
It may well be that the gentleman wouldn't be allowed to vote. But to say "he wouldn't be allowed to vote if the Voter ID amendment passes in two weeks" is not correct as a statement of absolute fact.
I don't want to "pollute" the comments section, but...
I don't think Jeff was even making reference to the substantial equivalent issue faced by deployed soldiers and absentee voters. Even though this particular gentleman is voting absentee.
I think he was making more of a point that the elderly often do not have photo ID readily available to them, because they often have no more need for it.
While I don't pretend to know this mans story, nor do I know what "supporting documentation" would be needed to get a photo ID, I would venture a bet that Jeff's underlying statement holds true, it would be an additional burden on him to get a photo ID no matter how the legislature writes the bill.
But even your point that we don't really know what all will be entailed in the actual laws supporting the amendment should be reason to step back and take a closer look at the amendment in general and exactly what you are voting on.
p.s. from the subtext that showed up in my RSS feed I thought this was all about Voter ID: "Sometimes the people you fear the most, the people who others once thought unworthy of the benefits of freedom, become the very picture of it."
p.p.s Good story. I have to wonder about the legalities in MN though... I read recently that OH judges said that if some one votes absentee and is no longer alive come election day that their vote will still count, I do not know if the same holds true in MN.
// I think he was making more of a point that the elderly often do not have photo ID readily available to them, because they often have no more need for it.
I think Jeff did a good job making his point, which was that people like this fine man would be denied the opportunity that we see as the primary example of freedom in America.
As I indicated, as Mark Ritchie indicated, the problem is we don't know that for sure yet because the legislation was so poorly and incompletely written before having voters decide it, and they're basically deciding something for which there is no full amount of information available yet.
In other words, people are being asked to vote for something based on a "trust us" philosophy. The predictions of who is disenfranchised may well come to be correct, but the pols have prevented us from being able to debate the issue with full facts because they've left so much out of the legislation.
In terms of will his vote count, the Associated Press looked at this yesterday. There is a mechanism for it in place. If the Department of Health notifies election officials that someone died, they are to search through all the absentee ballots looking for one. It's officially the process, but it's an impractical process, so they won't bother.
It's an good example of what happens when politicians pass laws and processes that might sound good, but which have consequences and impracticalities in reality.
The subtext of my last line, by the way, does not pertain to Voter ID at all. It pertains a larger observation -- the nature of hate and fear. I talked about this on The Current yesterday. This country rounded people up and put them in, basically, concentration camps under the guise of "for their own protection." Could it happen again? Of course. As I said yesterday, "all you need is hate, and we've got plenty to go around."
Brilliant words at the end of your post! Thank you. Perhaps your post covers more than just the "voting" amendment on the ballot and perhaps it pertains to more than just these ballots?
Thanks for the response Bob.
It reminds me why I read news cut. You have a wonderful way of analyzing an issue, through facts, and clarifying not opinions and clarifying your statements when there is any ambiguity (which I know I can't do... see earlier posts)
Thanks for being outstanding at what it is you do.
I respect and honor Mr. Tanabe and am that MPR was allowed to share his story. My sympathies to his family as he has left a void in their lives but has left wonderful memories for them the cherish. Thank you for sharing this winderful story.