Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Who’s for (and against) voter photo ID, and why?

Judge Terence T. Evans

Judge Terence Evans

“Let’s not beat around the bush: The … voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”

That’s not be me talking. It’s the late federal Appeals Court Judge Terence Evans, left, writing in 2007. In fact, it’s the first words of his opinion leading to his conclusion that photo ID laws are driven by partisanship. Evans voted to strike down the Indiana law that was then before him.

But Evans view didn’t prevail. He was outvoted 2-1 in the 7th Circuit panel hearing the case. Then the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld the Indiana law on a 6-3 vote. So, if Minnesota adopts the proposed state constitutional amendment requiring photo ID for voting, the law’s opponents are unlikely to have any luck in federal court.

(The idea of requiring voter photo ID has been on the wish list of Minnesota Republicans for several years. If passed as a regular law in the current situation, it would be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. But the Repubs have the ability to put it on the ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment, a procedure that bypasses the opportunity for a gubernatorial veto. The Legislature has not acted on it yet but it is moving forward and voter ID is likely to be on the 2012 ballot.)

I learned of Judge Evans’ blunt statement of the partisan nature of photo ID reading an advance chapter of a forthcoming book by one of the top national experts on election law, Rick Hasen of the U of California (Irvine) Law School, editor of the quarterly Election Law Journal, and blogger in charge of Election Law Blog.

Hasen’s book will be titled “The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown.” The sample chapter, which focuses heavily on the issue of photo ID, is called “The Fraudulent Fraud Squad: Understanding the Battle Over Voter ID.”

As you can guess by the chapter title, Hasen believes and argues convincingly that supporters of voter photo ID laws who argue that they are trying to combat a significant form of voter fraud are themselves the frauds. The problem of criminals impersonating voters simply doesn’t exist in any serious numbers, certainly not in numbers that would affect an election result. Hasen argues that if you wanted to commit election fraud, the non-voter-impersonating-a-voter route would be one of the dumbest ways to go.

But Hasen, right,  doesn’t rely on his own view of how dumb it would be. During the George W. Bush administration, the Justice Department made a big deal of cracking down on voter fraud, organized a special Justice Department unit that managed, over five years of effort, to obtain just 86 convictions. But of those, just 35 were against individual voters. And of those, Hasen writes, not a single one would have been prevented by a photo ID requirement.

(As you might recall, a big part of the apparent motivation for the firing of seven U.S. attorneys — all Bush appointees — during W’s second term, was that the prosecutors in question did not show sufficient enthusiasm for going after voter cases. Hasen lists Karl Rove on the list of leaders of the Fraudulent Fraud Squad.)

So if there’s not much voter fraud and almost none that would be deterred by a photo ID law, why keep trying to push those laws through? Well, to loop back to Judge Evans from the first paragraph, the motivation is partisan advantage. (By the same token, the motivation for Democrats to oppose those laws is also partisan.) Because, as Judge Evans said, the kind of voters most likely to be discouraged from voting by a photo ID requirement (generally poor, minority, elderly voters) are from groups that tend to vote more for Democrats. No duh, right? But the discussion over the law continues to proceed on the non-issue of cracking down on a form of fraud that doesn’t occur.

My favorite statistic from Hasen’s piece:  He analyzed the 10 state legislatures that considered voter ID laws between 2005 and 2007 and found that 95.3 percent of Republican legislators who had a chance to vote in favor of voter ID, did so. Among Dem legislators in those states, 2.1 percent voted for the laws.

So why was Judge Evans outvoted by colleagues on his own court and by the Supreme Court majority?

Well, a lot of it came down to Republican-appointed judges voting to uphold the law and Dem appointees voting along Evans’ line. But the logic of the majority was simply this: It is not unconstitutional for legislators to vote for a law that is good for their party. Partisan motives are not unconstitutional. And in addition (the same thing will be argued in Minnesota if the debate proceeds), it is very hard for opponents of the photo ID laws to demonstrate that there are eligible voters who would be prohibited from voting by a photo ID requirement. They might be discouraged by the hassle, yes. But, according to the proponents, it takes more than discouragement to cross the line into unconstitutionality.

Oh, and if you’d like to read Hasen’s chapter for yourself, it is available via Amazon for Kindle readers, and if you don’t have a Kindle, you can sign up for getting Kindleable materials on your PC. But, in the spirit of Judge Evans, let’s not beat around the bush. It will cost you $1.99 to download the chapter. Hey, I paid it. Anyway, here’s the link to the chapter on Amazon.

Comments (80)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 09:52 am.

    Please advise

    Eric informed: “Justice Department unit that managed, over five years of effort, to obtain just 86 convictions. But of those, just 35 were against invididual voters.”

    If we are correct to conclude that the remaining 51 convictions were against groups like ACORN, do you know if *any* groups with ties to conservatives were among the guilty?

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall that there have been more than 100 convictions in Minnesota in the past couple of years. Do you have the exact number?

    Finally, am I the only one to see the irony of judges making decisions regarding the validity of partisanship along partisan lines?

    • Submitted by Frank Bowden on 02/16/2012 - 12:47 pm.

      Desperately seeking voter fraud

      Thomas, you seem to be excited that the Justice Department obtained a few dozen convictions over a five-year period across the entire nation. The MN Secretary of State has estimated that over 700 thousand people will be disenfranchised by the voter ID law proposed for Minnesota in this state alone.

      Doesn’t the proposed law seem to be a disproportionate response to a vanishingly small problem, even to you? Doesn’t it seem relevant that the proposed law would not even address the very few known instances of voter fraud, even the 100 convictions you refer to.

      BTW, there is this search facility thingie called Google. If you type in “MN voter fraud convictions,” you can find out that the Minnesota convictions concerned felons who voted in spite of their ineligibility. In the future, you won’t have to ask Eric to do your research for you. Another benefit would be that you might not, out of innocent ignorance, bring up extraneous information that is irrelevant to the issue at hand. The illegal voting by felons would not be stopped by the proposed voter ID law.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:17 pm.

        Your leftist agit-prop sources notwithstanding…

        If the MN Secretary of State has estimated that over 700 thousand people will be disenfranchised by the voter ID, he is….wrong (see, I’m being nice).

        Voter ID has been vetted by the US Supreme Court, and they agree that he is…wrong. This law does not, of itself disenfranchise anyone.

        You’re right though, I could go to the google. But I thought providing information was what Eric gets paid for….

    • Submitted by Luke Ferguson on 02/16/2012 - 12:53 pm.

      MN Convictions were Felons


      The voters found in Minnesota through the last years of extreme electoral scrutiny in the form of two state wide recounts were almost exclusively felons who voted before the full term of their parole was up, not realizing their franchise had not yet been reinstated.

      Please note that photo ID would not prevent this, since these felons are fully eligible to carry photo IDs with their name and address on them.

      Also please note that Governor Pawlenty vetoed extra funding to the secretary of state’s office specifically for instituting a program to better inform felons about their voting rights and whether or not they are eligible.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:24 pm.

        Objective observations.

        Check cashing services require ID. That doesn’t stop some people from passing bad paper, but the very act of poducing it precludes any excuses when they get caught.

        There is no way to know how many people really vote illegally each year. Felons got caught because the leave a paper trail; the illegal immigrant lured to the polls by promises of cash, food or what ever else leave not a trace. The very act of having to produce an ID will keep that from happening.

        • Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 02/16/2012 - 03:43 pm.


          The right to vote is the most mentioned right in the constitution. Go read it. It will be fun especially for a first timer such as you. “The right to vote” appears numerous times. “The right to use a check cashing service” appears zero times. “The right to get liquor with an ID” is another oft cited reason to impinge on our voting rights by the right wingers. Go figure.

          In addition, cheating a check cashing service has a tangible, monetary incentive. People, especially when they are desperate, will do bad things to get money.

          On the other hand, there is almost no tangible reward for getting a single extra vote. No one is going to risk the felony punishment for a single vote. They also would have to no everyone on the register, make sure they know who is not going to show up, and after all of that risk a felony for that one vote.

          On the other hand, suppressing the vote by thousands has a huge incentive. Why is voter suppression okay?

          I realize yo care zero for facts, reasoning, logic, common decency and such, but at least try to say stuff that makes sense.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 04:23 pm.


            noun, plural -gies.

            . a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects.

            • Submitted by William Gleason on 02/16/2012 - 05:35 pm.

              Fer cute, Mr. Swift

              Although it is difficult to determine sometimes because of the strange logic of your posts-

              Presumably you are claiming that id for voting is the same thing as id for check cashing or buying booze. As the comment, to which you are presumably replying, has already pointed out there is a great deal of difference between these activities.

              Reasoning by analogy is fraught with difficulty. As even you on occasion have noticed and posted: “sand is not food.”

            • Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 02/16/2012 - 07:33 pm.

              Bad Analogy:

              claiming that two situations are highly similar, when they aren’t. For example, “The solar system reminds me of an atom, with planets orbiting the sun like electrons orbiting the nucleus. We know that electrons can jump from orbit to orbit; so we must look to ancient records for sightings of planets jumping from orbit to orbit also.”

              Or, buying beer and getting drunk and the precious right to vote

              Or, a privately held bank forcing extra requirements vs. the government doing it.

              Or, “Minds, like rivers, can be broad. The broader the river, the shallower it is. Therefore, the broader the mind, the shallower it is.”

              Or, “We have pure food and drug laws; why can’t we have laws to keep movie-makers from giving us filth ?”

          • Submitted by David Johnson on 03/14/2012 - 04:53 pm.

            There is no right to vote in the US Constitution

            Mr. Timmerman is wrong. The US Constitution guarantees no right to vote.

            “In its 2000 ruling, Alexander v Mineta, the [U.S. Supreme] Court … affirmed the district court’s interpretation that our Constitution ‘does not protect the right of all citizens to vote, but rather the right of all qualified citizens to vote.’ And it’s state legislatures that wield the power to decide who is ‘qualified.’

            As a result, voting is not a right, but a privilege granted or withheld at the discretion of local and state governments…. the U.S. is one of just 11 nations among 120 or so constitutional democracies that fail to guarantee a right to vote in their constitutions.”


            Since state legislatures have the power to decide who is and is not qualified to vote, then their choosing to add the qualification to produce a valid photo ID to get a ballot is constitutional.

            Therefore, the concept implicit in many of the arguments against voter ID (that requiring an ID to vote ‘disenfranchises’ qualified voters) is without merit.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/16/2012 - 04:26 pm.

          Figments of imagination

          Your comment about check cashing is off the mark. Tell me…how do you suppose some kids manage to get alcohol? 35 individuals over the entire country got convicted of voter fraud over 5 years. In 2010, more than 2000 people in ONE CITY (Tempe, AZ) got caught with fake IDs. Which is the bigger problem?

          Felons get “caught” because they don’t know that they’re not allowed to vote right away after jail time. Illegal immigrants voting, eh? Proof? (Yes, I’ve seen all of the claims, but none of the proof.) Here, I’ll give you a start. From the same data regarding those 35 individual convictions (of 81 total–some of which were candidates paying people to vote for them, not something a voter ID would help), there were counted 14 non-citizens. Staggering, isn’t it? It appears that the “fraud” in those cases was unintentional, too. No money or food involved, just confusion.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 06:07 pm.

            Oh, well no harm done then…

            “…there were counted 14 non-citizens. Staggering, isn’t it? It appears that the “fraud” in those cases was unintentional, too. No money or food involved, just confusion.”

            Just good clean fun, eh Rachel? Nothin’ to see here, move along.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/16/2012 - 03:14 pm.


      By “like ACORN” do you mean the Adelsons?
      The point is that the number of convictions (and I’m not sure that any of them were actually for casting an illegal ballot) is a very small fraction of one percent; much less than the margin of error of the voting process.
      In other words, it was not a factor in the outcome of any election; there is no problem that needs dealing with by enacting a new law.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:26 pm.

        1% not a factor?

        Two words: Al Franken.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/16/2012 - 04:36 pm.

          Yes but…

          Al Franken was elected by eligible voters. In fact, each and every one of those votes was checked, rechecked, rechecked, and rechecked. All of the roles of voters participating in that election were checked, rechecked, rechecked, and rechecked. I can almost guarantee you that such a close victory will have no fraudulent votes counted. Both sides pay to make sure. Or, at least they’re supposed to. If I remember right, the MN GOP still owes money for that recount, don’t they.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 05:49 pm.

            Oh well….

            “I can almost guarantee you that such a close victory will have no fraudulent votes counted”

            …that’s different then *facepalm*

            • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/17/2012 - 09:18 am.

              You’ll hurt yourself

              if you keep facepalming for no apparent reason. If you have a reason, please articulate.

              I note, by the way, this new comment formatting is great…except that MinnPost appears to have loosened its standards for comment review. Simply claiming that a comment is dumb without any statement backing it up is pretty snarky and doesn’t lend to the conversation.

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/17/2012 - 03:22 pm.


                I’ve found that brevity can be a very useful tool. Sometimes it’s best to just let statements speak for themselves.

    • Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/16/2012 - 04:16 pm.

      ACORN was convicted of zero incidents of voter fraud because it did not commit any.

      Their part-time employees were paid by the number of voter registration forms turned in. ACORN then reviewed each form and removed any that were incomplete or, in the case of some from a very few people, were supposedly the registrations of non-existent people — like “Mickey Mouse” — from a few employees who wanted to increase their pay.

      ACORN fired these employees and turned in the falsified registration to election officials. It tried to hide nothing. The employees in question committed registration fraud, NOT voting fraud, but the right wing nevertheless was able to drive out of business an organization that existed to help poor people find decent housing and to exercise their rights as citizens.

      It’s utterly boring to hear this brought up again and again as if smearing an innocent organization forever would accomplish something good.

  2. Submitted by James Miller on 02/16/2012 - 10:10 am.

    Where’s the Beef (or, er, link)?

    Good article. Please send me or rewrite with the link to the purchasable chapter on Amazon.

  3. Submitted by Tom Clark on 02/16/2012 - 10:12 am.

    Motivation, schmotivation

    Unless there’s a genuine need to have a voter ID law on the actual merits, then we shouldn’t have one.

    • Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 02/16/2012 - 02:09 pm.

      Voter ID

      Unfortunately, just the mere mention of fraudulent voting in this day and age is scary. If hackers can break into DOD files/systems, our personal records, law enforcement data bases, and even state or federal tax records etcetera then what’s stopping these same brigands from messing up voting files and voter registrations? Also, what about providing false personal registration information, at the polls, during same-day voting and/or registration like in Minnesota?

      What’s wrong with just showing a legitimate photo ID and other basic requirements to vote, when asked for? At the present time the Minnesota system of voter registration and voter identification does have a few glaring holes for miscreant parties! Even Michael Rodent [aka Mickey Mouse] could register and vote with very little or no resistance from doing such.

      For example, at a recent election I was asked for ID at the polling place. Surprise, I just happened to have my “Passport Card” I recently applied for Canadian border crossings etc. it came in that same day’s mail. [Mail picked up enroute to the polls.] After showing this US Government/Dept of State photo ID document the election judge asked me if I had another picture ID with my address on it. Funny thing, the addressed State Dept. envelope, it arrived in, containing my produced Passport Card was sufficient enough. My MN drivers license was what she accepted! I didn’t say anything about this but I went on to vote.

      Yes, I was registered and this was the first time in years I was asked for ID. No harm done but what about the next time? What if I produced the full US Passport? Election judges need to spot check folks occasionally. However, they should be educated in the forms of IDs.

      Another example of why voter photo IDs are necessary is the registration process. I register to vote during a voter registration campaign with the Gop, Democrats, or League of Women Voters Who checks the registrations and at the polls what stopping someone who gave a false name with a legitimate address from voting. Ninety-eight percent [98%] of the time that ersatz registered voter can prove his/her identity by showing the polling worker the voter registration card address and my some legitimate addressed junk mail. No photo ID mine you but just mail. Is that fair?

      In today’s world, photo IDs are a necessity of life and business. I am over 65 and I can produce at least two photo IDs on request. For the most part, hopefully, Minnesota has a system of checking voters’ identification before elections and after normal registering through various outlets. However, proving ID at the polls or registering at the polling place should be a given beyond any reasonable doubt.

      Last but not least, voting is an American Constitutional “Right” and must be protected as such. What’s wrong with showing a proper photographic ID to prove who you are? It may not be absolutely foolproof but it is enough to keep our voting rights from being abused.

      • Submitted by Frank Bowden on 02/16/2012 - 03:22 pm.

        Voter ID

        You are absolutely right that voting is a constitutional right that must be protected. Unfortunately requiring a governmental photographic ID to vote would disenfranchise thousands of voters, which seems to be the goal of many of the proponents of the law. There are other arguments over whether or not everyone should be required to have a government ID (and it is interesting that the supposed small-government types are in favor of this requirement), but I note that the people who are pushing a voter ID requirement to vote are not addressing the fact that many people don’t have one.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/16/2012 - 03:52 pm.

        You cannot vote with junk mail

        Let’s be accurate and realistic here. You can’t just go to the polls and show a piece of junk mail to vote.

        First for the accuracy check. Here’s the actual list of things that you may use to register on the day of voting:
        A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, Minnesota ID card, or receipt for any of these
        A valid student ID card including your photo, if your college has provided a student housing list to election officials
        A Tribal ID card that contains your picture and signature
        A valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address
        A notice of late registration sent to you by your county auditor or city clerk
        A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath
        An employee of the residential facility where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath
        Both 1) a photo ID from the list below, and 2) a current bill from the list below with your current name and address in the precinct

        Photo IDs (may be expired)

        Minnesota Driver’s License
        Minnesota ID Card
        United States Passport
        United States Military ID Card
        Tribal ID Card
        Minnesota University, College, or Technical College ID Card

        Bills (delivered electronically or by mail)
        Utility bill due within 30 days of election day:
        Telephone (landline, cell, VOIP, etc.)
        TV (cable, satellite, etc.)
        Internet services
        Solid Waste
        Sewer Services
        Rent statement dated within 30 days of election day that itemizes utilities
        Current student fee statement

        Nowhere does it say you can bring a piece of junk mail with your name on it and that will validate your ability to vote.

        Now for the reality. About 2/3 of Americans don’t have passports, and they’re not free, either. About 10% of people over the age of 18 don’t have driver’s licenses or other state-issued photo ID–also not free. Nearly 20% of people over 65 have no photo ID whatsoever. Even if these things were free to those asking for them (and who’s going to pay for them…taxes?), they don’t just show up at your doorstep because you’re old enough to vote (or disappear when you commit a felony). You actually have to go get them. During business hours. With money. And probably patience. Do you know why so many people don’t have photo IDs already? This is the important part: they lack the transportation and/or money to do so. Forcing them to is a poll tax they can’t afford. Of course, ANY poll tax is illegal.

        The scary part is that people are ok with this poll tax because they’re afraid of something that doesn’t exist, at least not in numbers large enough to matter.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/21/2012 - 03:30 pm.

        What wrong with voter ID?


        The fact is that there are around 250,000 voters in MN who will not have the required ID. These folks will essentially have to pay to vote because even if they’re ID is free, and that’s a big “if” because Republicans refuse to talk about how much this would cost, or where the money would come from, they’d still have to for the necessary documentation, transportation etc. Furthermore this makes absentee ballots practically impossible, so military personnel, students, etc. will be prevented from voting. And remember out of over 4 million votes examined in the last two elections not a single case of voter that would have been prevented by a photo ID was discovered, and all the cases of voter fraud that are routinely discovered and prosecuted, have been discovered without photo IDs.

        Photo ID will do nothing to enhance the integrity of our elections, but it will disenfranchise voters. The Republicans aren’t doing this because they want legitimate voters, they just want fewer voters.

  4. Submitted by William Gleason on 02/16/2012 - 01:35 pm.

    Voter Suppression – Goal of the Right for Some Time.

    To hear a famous example in the words of right wing activist Paul Weyrich one need only go to YouTube and listen to this most startling admission. The pitiful thing is that he seems proud of his voter suppression strategy;

    Paul Weyrich – “I don’t want everybody to vote”


    “Elections are not won by a majority of people; they never have been, from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

    Among the notches on Weyrich’s pistol were being involved in founding both the American Heritage foundation (with Coors money) and ALEC (with Koch money).

    Yes that ALEC – the organization that provides scripts for voter suppression legislation (aka VoterID) to gullible or venal GOP state legislators.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/16/2012 - 10:40 am.

    We might also conclude that the remaining 51 convictions were against “conservative” advocacy groups, which – unlike ACORN – actually exist. And even if none of them were, as Mr. Swift implies, it’s beside the point, unless Mr. Swift has inside information that literally tens of thousands of election-deciding votes were fraudulently obtained as a result of whatever group’s activities. Getting that information out to the public would be a good thing, and even I’d be happy to support a voter ID law if it could be demonstrated that election fraud is a serious problem in Minnesota, with verified numbers to back up the assertion, but I’ve yet to see anyone, right or left, provide credible evidence that such is the case here.

    As often happens, Mr. Swift conveniently skips over the main point – that there’s not enough fraudulent (or even mistaken) voting to make a difference – and thus illustrates that a law to “prevent” such fraud is truly a solution in search of a problem. A search in vain, it would appear. The real fraud is the one being perpetrated by the Minnesota Republican Party.

    As Eric pointed out, there’s nothing unconstitutional about a political party trying to skew things to go its way, and that certainly applies to both major parties and some minor ones, too, but the *real* irony in Mr. Swift’s comment about the validity of judges making partisan decisions is that the impetus – all over the country, probably thanks to ALEC – to have judges be elected on a partisan basis comes, not from the center or the left, but from the right wing. Complaints about “activist” judges would, I’d guess, disappear if they were all reliably John Birch Society members, though there’s no guarantee that the public would be well-served if that were the case.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:38 pm.

      How many make a difference?

      “As often happens, Mr. Swift conveniently skips over the main point – that there’s not enough fraudulent (or even mistaken) voting to make a difference”

      I haven’t overlooked a thing, Ray. In fact, Al Franken is seated in the US Senate on the approval of less than 1% of the voters.

      If even 1 person votes illegally, I figure he’s disenfranchised me, personally. You may not value your vote much, but you’ll forgive me for holding mine dear.

      • Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 02/16/2012 - 03:46 pm.

        And, just like Animal Farm….

        Some pigs are more equal than others. Your one vote vs. 1000’s of suppressed votes? Yes indeed, some pigs are deemed more equal than others.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 06:04 pm.

          It’s “Some animals are more equal than others”

          “Animal Farm” Alec It’s a great book. You should get an illustrated version and read it sometime.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/16/2012 - 05:05 pm.

        That word…

        I don’t think it means what you think it means. If even one person votes illegally, it does not remove your right to vote.

        • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 02/21/2012 - 08:47 pm.

          What good is my vote

          if it is nullified by electoral fraud?

          What good is the right to vote of 10,000 citizens if they are nullified by the fraudulent votes of 10,500?

          (numbers used as a hypothetical)

          • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/23/2012 - 02:24 pm.

            Truly hypothetical

            Well, I think that would be a concern. But since it’s nowhere near the truth, let’s bring this discussion back down to Earth.

            Disenfranchisement means the removal of the ability to vote. It has nothing to do with whether your vote is “good.” After all, what good is my vote if you keep voting for the other guy?

            The fact of the matter is that the sky is not falling, yet the Republicans in the legislature insist that it is. Then spend time and money convincing the voters that, not only do we need to prop up the sky, we need to do it with I-beams and concrete. The resulting monstrosity doesn’t hold up the sky, and restricts our ability to function with any flexibility because it’s in the way in the most permanent manner it can possibly be. The motives aren’t pure, either.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/17/2012 - 10:44 am.


        Actually, Al Franken was seated in the Senate by the approval of the Senate, supported by the approval of 51% of the voters.

  6. Submitted by Rich Crose on 02/16/2012 - 10:48 am.

    Who are the Activist Judges Now?

    Isn’t this what the Republicans are running against, activist judges?

    A bigger problem is the 25% of the population that have either been marginalized or so turned off by politics that they don’t even register.

    Why don’t they pass a law that says everyone must register to vote on their 18th birthday –they force men to register for the draft?

  7. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/16/2012 - 10:51 am.

    The Only Recent Voter I.D. Fraud

    That I’m aware of was that perpetrated by James O’Keefe in New Hampshire in which, as he was trying to prove that recently-dead people might not have been expunged from the rolls, and thus someone might be able to vote in their names,…

    he and those working with him did, indeed, commit voter fraud, but failed to show that any ACTUAL voters in New Hampshire perpetrated such fraud.

    Of course the likelihood of voting for dead people, if it were actually to happen, might produce enough fraudulent votes to sway an election if that election were held in the midst of a great plague or disaster which killed massive numbers of people,…

    but lacking that, it’s unlikely that even a concerted effort to carry out such a fraud as that perpetrated by Mr. O’Keefe, would change the results of an election.

    It would, of course, make it far more difficult for elderly residents of nursing homes and for poor people, especially those who don’t drive and have moved far away from the states where they were born and/or supply a plethora of additional hoops that college students must jump through to secure sufficient I.D. to allow themselves to vote.

  8. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 02/16/2012 - 10:53 am.

    At what expense?

    How much are the Republicans going to raise taxes to pay for all of these new state issued Voter IDs? They can’t charge for the ID, that would be a federally unconstitutional poll tax.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:32 pm.

      I don’t have hard numbers Dan

      But I’m guessing free ID’s wont cost much more than the job Dayton created out of thin air (and tax dollars) for Ellen Anderson. It will also have the attraction of having at least served a tangible purpose.

    • Submitted by Richard Schulze on 02/16/2012 - 07:52 pm.

      The unwillingness of supporters of these laws to deal with their effects is odd. Either they will disenfranchise precisely those voters that were statutorily disenfranchised for centuries, or they will cost states enormous amounts of money (ie, from providing free voter-ID cards, from making them easily obtainable, from education/outreach to explain changes to the law, etc). Now, it could be that supporters believe that the marginal protection against certain forms of extremely rare voter fraud is worth the burden on state budgets and the risk of turning away eligible voters. But that is not an argument we have yet heard.

      Indiana found that implementing its photo-ID law cost $1.3m, with an additional $2.2m in revenue loss. A cost study in Missouri concerned a proposed photo-ID law forecast costs of $6m the first year and $4m recurring. A few mil here and a few mil there may not sound like much, but when state budgets are tight those costs add up.

      Second, a related point: voter fraud is rare and these laws would be largely ineffective against it. Far from preserving the integrity of the electoral process, one could argue that these laws imperil it by stoking fears of a rare crime and using it to cast doubt on an election’s outcome.

  9. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/16/2012 - 10:55 am.

    The sky is falling. The sky is falling for the republicans.

    A photo ID system in Minnesota is nothing more than a solution looking for a problem. It is one of the republicans continuous fear-mongering campaigns. There has not been any voter fraud proven in Minnesota that warrants establishing a costly system, which is only designed to disenfranchise voters. Thirty-five voter convictions, nationally, over a five year period during George W. Bush’s reign, should be enough proof for the republicans to start finding a real problem to solve. I would think those very conservative republicans would be absolutely outraged at all the money wasted chasing down thirty-five convictions. The tea party and all of its nonsense has very effectively replaced the entire republican party. The republicans say they want government out of our lives but the majority of what they are for puts government in our lives. Not even the sensible, moderate republicans of long ago like the choices they are given to choose from today. This would be a good time for the republicans to stop the fear mongering and start solving the problems they created.

  10. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 02/16/2012 - 11:20 am.

    Well, I don’t know if the Republican Secretary of State in Indiana would be considered a conservative by Mr Swift, but he was convicted of voting fraud by a state court earlier this month. Ironically, this guy’s motive wasn’t to commit vote fraud but to keep his salary as a town councilman after moving out of town. A photo ID law wouldn’t have caught him voting in the wrong polling place, though, because he lied about his address on his drivers license.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:43 pm.

      Actually, Paul

      The example you’ve provided *is* an example of an instance where ID would have prevented fraud. The validity of his ID was what got him convicted, and if his vote would have made the difference in a race, the results would have been changed to correct his fraudulant vote.

      More like that, please.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/16/2012 - 05:10 pm.

        Not true

        The voter fraud happened. It wasn’t prevented. Convicting him doesn’t take his vote back or identify which of the people shouldn’t have gotten his votes. If his lone vote would have been part of a very close race, rest assured, with or without an ID, they’d have smoked him out of the final count.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/17/2012 - 08:57 am.


          Please re-read your post Rachel. You see the contradiction? Perhaps you just put it awkwardly, but if a vote gets smoked out of the final count, doesn’t it, in effect take the vote back? And in the case of a situation in which the results can be reversed, doesn’t prosecution work as well as prevention?

          Sometimes in the rush to defend our points of view, we fail to take the time to think our commentary through; I understand.

          • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/17/2012 - 09:29 am.

            No, I don’t see the contradiction

            It IS possible I put it awkwardly (though I doubt it), but I am not wrong. He still managed to commit fraud with an ID. Unless you ask him who he voted for (and then assumed that he didn’t lie when he responded) no one knows which vote to remove. However, since his vote wasn’t in a close race, they probably didn’t bother to try to remove his vote. So, no, it doesn’t take the vote back. And if it had been a close race, they’d have found him to have committed a crime even without the ID.

          • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 02/17/2012 - 10:16 am.

            Thanks for the chuckle

            “Sometimes in the rush to defend our points of view, we fail to take the time to think our commentary through; I understand.”

            Having read through this entire thread, this comment strikes me as probably the most un-self-aware comment in it.

      • Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 02/17/2012 - 10:09 am.

        Not so.
        Indiana has a

        Not so.

        Indiana has a photo-ID voting requirement. This guy (the Republican Secretary of State) had a valid ID (driver license, I believe) that had his ex-wife’s home address on it. The problem was that he wasn’t living there and instead lived at his fiance’s home in another city. But he voted where his ID said he lived, not where he actually lived. That’s why he was convicted. He wasn’t caught because of the photo-ID law, but in spite of it.

        The point I intended tomake is that Mr Swift seems to think that all or most “fraud” occurs only with Democratic voters, and that is simply and demonstrably not true.

  11. Submitted by Jim Lavoie on 02/16/2012 - 11:37 am.

    Opposition to Voter ID not partisan

    Eric, you mentioned parenthetically that as the promotion of voter ID laws is partisan, so is the opposition. That’s not really accurate. Regardless of party affiliation a person can be against a plan to disenfranchise citizens. Voting is a constitutional right and opposing restrictions on it is simply good citizenship. As for the opposition having to rely on “inconvenience” as its only argument, that’s not really accurate either. The constitution is a grant of power from the people to the government. Allowing the government to interfere with citizens’ rights to vote turns the democratic plan on its head. It gives power to government, and that means to the group that controls the government. Everyone seems to think that getting this ID will be no big deal. Well, maybe now that’s the plan, but it never really works that way in dealing with a bureaucracy. Think of the times you went to a government office for this or that and were told, “well that person’s not here today, come back tomorrow” or “do you have the original document? No, oh then you’ll have to get it (wherever you can) and come back” or “you can apply today, but won’t get the document for two weeks” or “Oh, you’re at the wrong office. You need to go across town, but they’re closing in 15 minutes”. Sound familiar? It’s the nature of the beast. So paste that on to your wanting only to exercise your constitutional right to vote, and you’ll see the mischief possible in it. Frankly, I have nothing but contempt for a party that sees as an advantage limiting in any way possible the number of people who can vote.

  12. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 02/16/2012 - 12:35 pm.

    voter “fraud”

    “The problem of criminals impersonating voters simply doesn’t exist in any serious numbers.”

    Exactly how many voters does it take to be a “serious number”? The obvious answer is that it is “serious” when it determines the outcome of an election. So, we could be talking about a few hundred, right? I don’t understand why those of us who support efforts to make elections fairly express the majority will of the people are being villainized. I don’t view this issue as being “republican” or “democrat.”

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/17/2012 - 10:49 am.


      Disenfranchising voters (as referred to above) has more of an effect on the outcome of elections than the small number of fraudulent votes actually cast.

    • Submitted by Jeffrey Klein on 02/17/2012 - 12:02 pm.


      Because the “solution” to the “problem” would disenfranchise voters in the many thousands.

  13. Submitted by Pat Thompson on 02/16/2012 - 12:53 pm.

    Felons and Joe Soucheray

    From what I have read, the only illegal voting cases found are felons voting before they’re allowed, which would not be prevented by the voter ID law.

    Joe Soucheray wrote a very inflammatory column on Tuesday ( claiming that he has seen numerous examples of people voting — legally — who were only there because they were enticed to the polls by the offer of free cigarettes.

    Is this just a case of Joe making it up or very heavily exaggerating?

  14. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/16/2012 - 01:07 pm.


    The underlying issue is whether we should pass a law unless a valid case is made against it,
    or whether a case should be made for passing a law by those presenting it.

  15. Submitted by Alex Lester on 02/16/2012 - 01:25 pm.

    GOP Arithmetic

    Dear GOP Legislator,
    How much is it going to cost taxpayers to keep legitimate voters from voting?
    My property tax bill won’t take another hit, right?

    Do these numbers look right?

    1. For the public education campaign: $1,000,000 in fiscal year 2013 from the Help America Vote Act account and $1,300,000 total in FY 2012 and 2013 from the general fund.
    2. From the HAVA account to the Secretary of State: $950,000 for IT and implementation of electronic roster requirements, $500,000 for implementing other requirements of the statute.
    3. From the general fund to provide the state-subsidized voter ID cards: $75,000 in FY 2012 and $1,033,000 in FY 2013.

  16. Submitted by Michael Jacobs on 02/16/2012 - 01:58 pm.

    One More Reason

    To take the time to JUST SAY NO. To all the proposed amendments that the GOP is shoving down the throats of the people.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 03:48 pm.


      So, now those dastardly Republicans are shoving franchises right down our throats? *facepalm*

      • Submitted by William Gleason on 02/16/2012 - 04:42 pm.

        Read first, then comment?

        The GOP is not trying to shove “franchises” down our throats, Mr. Swift. In fact just the opposite, they are trying to remove the franchise from groups of people they think are unlikely to vote for them.

        No one is fooled.

        By the way, your continuing use of the taunt *facepalm* is a good illustration of the level of your comments. These kinds of responses seem to be about all you have lately.

        But please carry on. You are a great spokesman for the right.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/16/2012 - 05:53 pm.


          You’re right, Gleason…according to Michael, they’re forcing people to excersize their franchises.

  17. Submitted by Sarah Magnuson on 02/16/2012 - 04:38 pm.

    My conclusion

    Photo ID being required to vote was not on my radar until a year ago, when reading an article by a journalist from MN whose conclusion was that requiring photo id to vote was a solution to a non-existent problem. It peaked my interest because in my world, everyone has a photo id so who could possibly object to this “reasonable” requirement. After considerable reading about this matter from every perspective, I have to agree with the conclusion of the very article that put this on my “radar”.

    There is no evidence to suggest that voter fraud is a problem in MN. According to the sources I looked at the only problem discovered was convicted felons who cast votes illegally. Requiring photo id would not solve this issue. I find it impossible to believe this is a valid issue when not even one case has been convicted aside from the felon voting.

    So what about this being a “common sense” law, i.e. should photo id be required it would eliminate any question of perceived fraud. After researching this angle, I have come to the conclusion that there is a surprisingly large number of people who could not vote because they do not have the proper id. Ironically, at this point one is my own daughter, a college student. She has allowed her drivers license to lapse because she doesn’t drive at college…all she needs to do is go to the dmv and pay $20 or so to get a new one, but that would entail a two mile walk or bike ride. I don’t consider this a hardship, per se, but it gives a tiny glimpse into a life of someone who doesn’t have or need a photo id for everyday life.

    My concern is the underlying reason for requiring photo id when there is no obvious fraud. It does beg the question…why? To which I believe is a political means to a more desirable political end. It becomes even more suspect when the political party trying to enact this into law is willing to spend millions of dollars (the cost to enact this in wi is estimated at about 6 million) when their mantra is fiscal responsibility.

  18. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/16/2012 - 06:28 pm.

    The Party of the People

    70% of those polled are in favor of voters showing a photo ID before they vote. This is just the latest example of the alleged “party of the people” opposing the will of the people because they lack the same good judgement of the average citizen.

    The “party of the people” is really the party that recognizes that without the reliable votes from illegals, double-voting college kids, people claiming to be someone they’re not, and dead people, they’d never win another election and we all know it.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/16/2012 - 06:50 pm.

    voter ID

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned a bunch of other problems raised by voter ID. Voter ID laws are designed to disenfranchise voters in a number of ways. For one thing, same day registration is impossible. Absentee ballots are impossible. And elections day vouching is eliminated.

    This business about mickey mouse registering to vote…

    The reason we don’t have any real voter fraud is because we have safeguards in place. These allegations of vacant lots and whatnot have turned out to be bogus when they were investigated. Addresses are in fact checked with cards that have to be mailed back. The Secretary of Sates office does in fact track down addresses and confirm them as a matter of course, and it is felony perjury to lie on voter registration documents, or fraudulently vouch for someone.

    Another thing about Kiffmeyer’s voter ID legislation is that it is significantly different than those have thus far passed constitutional muster in the courts. The MN voter ID laws would actually prevent people from casting votes if they didn’t have an ID without exception whereas most of the other voter ID states make allowances and let you cast a provisional vote.

  20. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/16/2012 - 09:56 pm.

    No Voter Fraud

    Here is an account of some voter fraud convictions in NY a few months back:

    In case you don’t follow the link, it involves officials abusing the absentee ballot process to swing an election. Asking for ID at some point during the absentee request sounds like it would close off this particular loophole.

    Also of note is this from Artur Davis, recent Democratic Representative from Alabama:
    From the article:
    “What I have seen in my state, in my region, is the the most aggressive practitioners of voter-fraud are local machines who are tied lock, stock and barrel to the special interests in their communities — the landfills, the casino operators — and they’re cooking the [ballot] boxes on election day, they’re manufacturing absentee ballots, they’re voting [in the names of] people named Donald Duck, because they want to control politics and thwart progress,” he told TheDC.

    This sounds problematic, doesn’t it?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/17/2012 - 10:54 am.


      It would if there were any facts to support it…. those inconvenient things.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/17/2012 - 02:44 pm.

        Re: Evidence

        Paul, when a congressman speaks out against normal party lines it should cause interest. It’s not fire, but it’s certainly smoke. This happened last fall and there was absolutely no interest in follow up from just about anyone. There has been some push to dismiss him if he won’t ‘name names’ but to me that doesn’t scan. Remember last year when a former Republican staffer talked about the gossip that he hears about the REAL motivation of Republican policies? I don’t think that he ‘named names’ either but that didn’t seem to quell interest there.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/17/2012 - 10:56 am.


      The Fox News link is incomplete; that issue is not available.

  21. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 02/16/2012 - 11:33 pm.

    Everything is ok.

    It’s ok.

    There’s no voter fraud. No illegals with out of state drivers licenses transferable to Minnesota licenses that can be presented with utility bills. No acceptance of the Matricula Consular as a legal ID anywhere in this state. One illegal vote doesn’t cancel a legal vote. People cannot just walk in and sign up a dozen people to vote with no verification. People just cannot sign up as many people as they want without verification even after they vote, if ever.

    Nope, everything’s ok.

    There’s no voter fraud.

    Nothing to see here. Just move along, please.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/17/2012 - 10:00 am.

      If this is sarcasm

      It’s not supporting your supposed contention that voter ID would fix voter fraud. First, you’ve shown no evidence that the fraud exists, let alone fraud that could be prevented with an ID, only generalized suggestions. Second, you suggest that photo IDs can be fraudulent as well (which is correct), though you couch it as an illegal immigrant issue (I presume that’s what “illegals” means to you, especially since you mention the Matricula Consular). You also suggest that a photo ID which CLEARLY indicates that a person is not eligible to vote in this country is used as a legal ID (which it is, but not to vote).

      As for people “just walking up” and signing other people up to vote, that’s oversimplified. One must 1. be registered in the same voting precinct; and 2. make an oath regarding the residence of the individual AND SIGN IT. I’ve done it. We had just moved and all the utilities were in my name. When we went to vote, I had to prove my identity and register with an ID and a utility bill. He provided an ID and I vouched for his residence, and signed an oath to that effect. I could not have done that if I had not been also a resident of that precinct.

  22. Submitted by Bill Hamm on 02/17/2012 - 02:45 pm.

    Disenfranchised voters

    Why so much effort over so few affected? When it comes to disenfranchising voters, Minnesota is a champion and has not been shy. We now arrest and convict 9 times more people of Black and Native Americans as whites for the use of the non lethal herb Marijuana. While alcohol kills 15,000 of our college age students a year. To give you a better feel, that’s a full 1% of these populations a year, multiply that our years and add in a couple other drug war issues and you begin to understand how certian RACIST in our society have stolen the vote of more than 50% of many of these communities citizens. Now ask yourself who profits from this blatant “Jim Crow” racism (The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander), the answer is simpler than you think. What do Law enforcement, prison gaurds, parole and probation officers, case workers, and everyone else these people are forced to deal with have in common? They are all public union employees who all relly upon this RACISM for their livelyhood. Now the question is, what is most important to Black voters, having the right to vote or having an ID to vote with? This debate only distract the sheeple from who the real RACIST around us are.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/18/2012 - 10:17 am.


      Yes, most of them are union members.
      Most of them also drink milk.
      Does this mean that drinking milk causes racism?

  23. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/22/2012 - 07:29 pm.

    Tom Swift, Jr., wrote

    “There is no way to know how many people really vote illegally each year.”

    If any. Case closed.

  24. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 02/23/2012 - 07:16 am.

    …and then where next…

    If Voter I.D. is but one step backward to control the right to vote;eliminating the disenfranchised, the elderly, the poor, the homeless…consider, what next. There needs to be some way beyond just the polling booth judge to enforce the process?

    Step two will certainly require security to be established outside the polling place to ensure fulfillment of the act itself? And then where next?

    How can we so arrogantly compromise the freedom to vote if the footprint we establish is walking backwards…from freedom to what next?.

    It was Eric Sevareid, a young reporter in the thirties in Mpls. who exposed the Silver Shirts, a neo-fascist organization with similar ambitions;other targets. Scary times whomever one chooses to label; whose civil liberties will to be so compromised

Leave a Reply