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Voter ID? We don’t see the need

One has to wonder what the motivation is to change our Constitution on voting rights, when there are no facts to support such a move.

Why change our voting system in Minnesota without any evidence that it doesn't work?

Gen has been a Twin Cities resident her entire life, born in Northeast Minneapolis, now residing in a senior building in Edina.  She is 92 years old, and does not have a current Minnesota picture ID. She is Jay’s mom.

She has voted consistently since she was 21 years old. Ten years ago her eyesight began to fail, so she gave up her car keys and stopped driving. About the same time, she moved into her current apartment where transportation is provided for the residents. She had no reason to renew her driver’s license.

Recently a bank matter arose that required Gen to get a picture ID. Because her license was expired for more than five years, it was necessary that she apply for a first-time state ID. That required proof of person — a birth certificate and a marriage license to track her name change. The marriage license was easily found through the Hennepin County records, at a cost of $9. They could not find a record of her birth.

We were told that the Minnesota Department of Health had birth certificates on file. Fortunately, they were able to find hers, but with a different spelling of her surname. Gen’s parents were Polish immigrants, and changed the spelling of their last name after her birth, a common practice in those days. The cost for the extra search and birth certificate was $26.

Documents in hand …

After several weeks, we had the license and certificate in hand and were ready to bring Gen to the only service center in our area that provides first time Minnesota IDs, the State Service Center in the Midtown Exchange on 28th and Chicago Ave. S. The Service Center allows you to make an appointment online, and thereby cut to the head of the line when you arrive. That was very helpful, and we made an appointment for 11:45.

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We picked Gen up at 10:45, allowing extra time for the complicated logistics of getting her there with her limited mobility and need for a walker. There was no support for the elderly or disabled at the service center, no wheelchairs, drop-off area, or relatively close parking. The Service Center is in the basement of a very bustling, crowded business area. But, after 2 hours and 45 minutes, we accomplished the goal of ordering her ID (an $11 fee). We headed for home with our exhausted mother.

As we write this, four weeks later, the ID just arrived. 

Scant evidence of fraud

If the Voter ID proposed constitutional amendment passes, this scenario will play out all over the state of Minnesota. Supporters of this proposed amendment argue that this must happen to prevent what they fear would be significant fraud in our elections. A number of academic studies have been done on this subject, notably among these studies is the NYU School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, and the Department of Justice study under George W. Bush. They have all concluded that there is scant evidence of election fraud. One area of concern, felons voting before serving their full sentence, would not be corrected by requiring a photo ID, and constitutes a tiny percentage of total voters.

Voting is a right, spelled out in our Constitution. Other matters, e.g. certain banking transactions, flying on a plane, checking in for a medical appointment, are not defined in our constitution. As citizens of this country, we are all entitled to vote. Even if we can’t cash a check for lack of ID, or fly to another destination … we are all entitled to vote.

Would set Minnesota apart

If this amendment passes, Minnesota would be the only state to require all voters have a government-issued ID, without exemptions, even absentee voters. All Minnesota citizens without a picture ID would have to spend extra time and money to get one, or be disenfranchised.

One has to wonder what the motivation is to change our Constitution on voting rights, when there are no facts to support such a move. The experience we had could disenfranchise many legitimate registered voters. It would be an injustice to create such a roadblock.  This proposal should not be enacted into law.  Vote NO on the proposed voter ID amendment.

Jay Kiedrowski is a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota and a contributor to Citizens for Election Integrity in Minnesota (CEIMN); Iris Kiedrowski is an Election Judge and a Board Member for CEIMN.

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