Photo ID: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Don’t leave home without it. You’ll need it for almost every area of your life. If you want to drive a car, board an airplane, cash a check, open a bank account, see a doctor, rent an apartment, or get a job, you’d better have it as proof of your identity. Yet for one of the most important things in your life, something our American soldiers have died to protect, it’s not required. A photo ID is not needed to vote in any of our Minnesota elections, and the ease with which an imposter can steal your vote is shocking.
Hopefully this will change on November 6, 2012 when a Yes or No question will be placed on the ballots. We will be asked if Minnesota should require photo identification for voting, as 30 other states do now. Voter IDs would be provided free of charge. The question will instruct each voter to either mark the “Yes” box (we should require photo ID) or the “No” box (no proof required, we trust you). Voters choosing not to answer might be in for a surprise, as they will in essence be casting a “No” vote. A blank answer defaults to “No.”
Why a Yes or No question on a ballot is allowed to have a default is beyond me, as it rigs the outcome in favor of one side. This makes it extremely important for us to know the facts about this issue and why it affects each and every one of us.
Most Minnesotans remember the 2008 Senate election between Norm Coleman and Al Franken because it was too close to call without a hand count. We were in the national spotlight for months, as the winner of that race would swing the balance of power in the U.S. Senate to one party or the other – parties with vastly different visions for our country. Franken won by a mere 312 votes out of almost 3 million votes cast.
This incredibly small margin of victory highlights the importance of having a system in place with unquestionable integrity to ensure that the winner of any contest is indeed the real winner. None of us wants our vote cancelled out by the vote of an ineligible person. Many questions on a ballot are specific to an area and to the citizens lawfully living there. Would you want someone living in a neighboring city or state to be able to walk into your precinct and have influence over the outcome of your local election results (e.g. school referendum or city parks issues)?
When national issues are at stake, it is not unusual for special interest groups to bring in busloads of activists to various parts of the country to try to influence election results. Currently Minnesota has no protection in place to prevent such people from voting, as long as they can find a local voter to “vouch” that they live here.
Contrary to what some opponents say, passing this new law would NOT end same day registration for voting, rather it would end this very loose system of vouching. One person can “vouch” for up to 15 people, and they don’t even vouch for their true identity, only that they live in that precinct. What is to stop corrupt individuals from abusing this system?
Minnesota’s own Constitution requires, in Article VII, Section I, that ineligible persons “shall not be entitled or permitted to vote at any election in this state.” This being the case, passing the voter ID amendment in November would be a way to actually enforce a law already in our state’s Constitution. In fact, according to a recent data analysis from MN Voters Alliance, thousands of same-day registered voters from the 2008 election still can’t be confirmed as eligible voters!
Considering that 3 ½ years after such an important election there is still doubt as to whether the results can be trusted, why would anyone who truly wants a fair election be opposed to voter ID? Perhaps they know they can’t win without cheating?
Those opposing this common sense ID requirement often argue that it will hurt the poor, especially African-Americans, as they might not have government issued ID’s and would be prevented from voting. Yet a recent study done by American University found that of the 2000 registered voters surveyed, only 1.2% couldn’t produce a valid photo ID. The vast majority of them, however, did have citizen documentation, meaning obtaining an ID would be easy.
Voter ID laws often have bipartisan support as they did in Rhode Island. In addition, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young (African-American) has spoken out in favor of photo ID, as has former President Jimmy Carter; both are Democrats. Requiring voter ID brings integrity to a system seen by many as corrupt, and can actually increase the participation rate of those truly eligible to vote.
Another argument from the opposition is that voter fraud is rare, and that spending the time and money to implement a new system is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Tell that to Eric Holder (U.S. Attorney General) who has sued states that try to implement voter ID laws – and just lost in Arizona – while a hidden camera recently captured how easy it would’ve been for an imposter to vote in a primary pretending to be…Eric Holder!
Even former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (a liberal) wrote in a 6-3 majority opinion upholding an Indiana voter ID law:
“That flagrant examples of [voter] fraud…have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists…demonstrate[s] that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.”
Ensuring that our election results are accurate should be reason enough to implement this proposed amendment, but there are time and money benefits as well. With the electronic swipe of the ID, thousands of pounds of paper rosters would no longer be needed; no lining up by alphabet at the polling place; months of post election data entry would be eliminated. This would bring significant cost savings for every county.
Every Minnesota citizen has the power, with the “stroke of their voter’s pen,” to make the voter ID law a reality by voting “Yes” on November 6th. Poll after poll has shown the vast majority of Americans – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – WANT this amendment. Let’s spread the word about the significant role we play to ensure all future elections are truly the voice of citizens being heard.
 New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/us/politics/01minnesota.html
 Center of the American Experiment - http://americanexperiment.org/publications/commentaries/photo-id-an-end-to-same-day-registration-in-minnesota-not-true
 Minnesota Constitution – http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cco/rules/mncon/Article7.htm
 Star Tribune – http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/147074885.html
 American University – http://www.american.edu/spa/cdem/upload/VoterIDFinalReport1-9-08.pdf
 Center of the American Experiment – http://americanexperiment.org/publications/commentaries/photo-id-an-end-to-same-day-registration-in-minnesota-not-true
 Center of the American Experiment – http://www.americanexperiment.org/publications/reports/no-longer-a-national-model-fifteen-recommendations-for-fixing-minnesota-electio