The voter ID amendment: VOTER RESTRICTION
by Wayne Tellekson, Becketwood Member
At first glance, it sounds like a no brainer. You need an ID to cash a check or board a plane – so why not to vote? But, if it’s that simple, why would the League of Women Voters, the AARP, the AAUW, the Jewish Community Action, the Nursing Association, Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities (and numerous other unions, associations and church groups) be so strongly opposed?
The League of Women Voters says it would create hurdles for eligible voters. Who? My mother for one. She and my father got married while they were students at St. Olaf in 1930. Married girls couldn’t live in the dorm, so they went to Faribault and got a license under false names. (That way it wouldn’t be in the newspaper!) They celebrated 55 years of marriage as a clergy couple. We assume they corrected the record, but don’t have proof of that. Mom moved to Minnesota when she was 90 and her drivers’ license was no longer valid. Because she wouldn’t have been able to prove her identity, she couldn’t have gotten a Minnesota ID – so she wouldn’t have been able to vote – if the amendment existed in her day. She would have hated not being able to vote.
AARP is concerned that many seniors would be affected. For some older people, locating birth certificate and traveling to get a state ID presents great hardships. Or, consider a University student from out of state. He might be used to cramming the night before a test and would think about registration the day before an election. He wouldn’t have a MN ID and would have to cast a provisional ballot. Then after the election, he’d have to go to an election office and prove that he didn’t vote at home and should be able to vote here. Many provisional ballots are never counted. Or, a person who has just moved to the state and doesn’t have a MN ID yet. Provisional ballot again. The amendment would end same day voting as we know it and end vouching for someone who needs proof of residency.
The League’s second objection is that it seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist: Fraud. Voter ID could only prevent voter impersonation fraud and there are no cases on record of that in Minnesota. In the 2008 senate election, both parties were looking for fraudulent votes cast for the opposition and found none. Minnesota elections are notoriously clean.
The third objection is cost. Providing an ID for anyone seeking it would cost $25.5 million statewide according to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
IF there is very little fraud and what voting violations there are wouldn't be corrected by an official ID; IF the cost and inconvenience is significant (even if the Humphrey Institute is a million or so off); IF several categories of people might lose voting rights (many seniors, military, students, Americans abroad and immigrants); and IF we would lose same day voting which has given Minnesota a larger percentage of voters – then there must be some hidden reason for pushing the amendment. Since no one is interested in unnecessary millions being spent, and since fraud is negligible at best in Minnesota, it appears the reason is to prevent some people from voting – like my mom.