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Sides volley over ‘voter fraud’

AFTERNOON EDITION

Sides volley over ‘voter fraud’

Other than the politicking over how to get the bill into law, there isn’t a lot more to be said about the validity of “voter fraud” as a reason to install an expensive new system of voter identification. You either accept facts or you don’t. Nevetheless, as Andy Birkey reports at The Minnesota Independent, the two sides continue to exchange the same information, and lack thereof: “A bill requiring voter identification cards, electronic rosters and a slew of other changes to election laws was heard in the House Government Operations and Election committee Thursday. … ‘You need a photo ID to buy alcohol, cigarettes, drive a car to the polling place,’ said Rep. Mike Benson, a Republican from Rochester. Benson is the author of one of two bills introduced in the Minnesota House that would require photo identification for voting. Benson said his bill is intended to prevent voter fraud. ‘It is very easy to impersonate someone if you don’t have to show identification,’ he said. ‘More and more you hear questions about the real integrity of the system.’ ” That, of course, is true. It’s just a question of “from whom, and why?”

And … “Last fall, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association called allegations of voter fraud in Minnesota ‘frivolous’ and [said] that only 26 people had been convicted of voting as a felon in the last two years. Teresa Nelson, legal counsel for the ACLU of Minnesota, told the committee that two close elections, in 2008 and 2010, ‘have not led to a single conviction for voter impersonation fraud — the only type of voter fraud that photo ID requirements could possibly address.’ ”

Eric Roper’s Strib story adds: “The state is one of only four that allows a registered voter to vouch for another voter’s eligibility. Minnesota is one of about 10 states with same-day registration. ‘Combining Election Day voter registration with vouching creates an environment that voters don’t and shouldn’t trust,’ said Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, which fought for many of the bill’s provisions.” “Voters”? Plural? As in … two? Ten? Two hundred?

The AP’s Brian Bakst files on Gov. Dayton’s latest thoughts on education funding, which he wants increased deficit be damned (more or less): “Dayton called Friday for more state spending on schools, changes in high-stakes testing, expanded all-day kindergarten and an added emphasis on literacy as part of a long-on-goals, light-on-details education plan. … Republican leaders [gave] either tepid or critical reaction. ‘I see nothing new here. Invest means to spend more. I see nothing about parents in this seven-point plan, not a thing about empowering parents,’ said House Education Reform Committee Chairwoman Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton. ‘Parents are our first teachers of students.’ “

Tough guy, Joe Latta. WMTV in Madison has the story of the 66-year-old Janesville man who was buried by a snow plow in the middle of Wednesday’s blizzard and survived four hours until a neighbor dug him out.

O … M … G. Revenue must be way up and travel budgets are no object at KARE. Otherwise, it’s hard to explain flying two staffers to … Japan … to interview … a baseball player … who has yet to play one game for the Twins. Anchor Mike Pomeranz got the tough duty, and both Robin Leach and Barbara Walters would be proud. If the 8:33 segment didn’t set some kind of record for a local TV feature … Monday’s Part 2 might. Oh, and for good measure, reporter Jeffrey DeMars gets the lot-less-cushy assignment of “reporting” on the culture shock awaiting Tsuyoshi Nishioka when he finally gets here. News flash. It’s not so crowded in Minnesota. Wow.

Far, far away on the other end of the glitz spectrum, KARE colleague Boyd Huppert files a report on a bed-bug-ridden house. If my wife sees this one, I’m going to have to burn every mattress and sheet in the house.

In the context of baseball, the PiPress’ Dave Orrick writes about the proposed new downtown St. Paul Saints stadium, which he says proponents are being very careful to market as as “regional ballpark”: “The facility’s marquee tenant would be the Saints, who would move out of the city-owned Midway Stadium and bring their 50 to 60 summer home games with them. The team has pledged $10 million. But city officials, who have committed land acquisition costs of about $10 million, emphasize that Saints games would be only a portion of the 200 or so events they believe the ballpark could host. ‘We want to get (an American) Legion World Series here,’ said Mike Hahm, director of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. ‘We need a facility to handle that.’ “
The rather amazing story plays on of freshman Sen. Scott Newman, a Republican from Hutchinson, apparently directing a staffer to decline meetings — in writing — with any groups that supported his opponent in last fall’s election. Brent Schacherer writes in the Litchfield Independent Review: “We would prefer to believe Newman isn’t keeping an ‘enemies’ list, but the fact that his legislative assistant did some ‘careful checking’ and found the [Minnesota Nurses Association] had donated to [opponent Hal] Kimball’s campaign alludes to something more than a miscommunication. Either the assistant was told by Newman to check, or she did that investigation on her own. Neither answer reflects well on Newman. Still, his constituents should hear something more by way of explanation than the ‘I should be giving clearer instructions’ line Newman offered last week. He was elected to represent all of District 18, not just those who voted for him. … Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton called the DFL senators’ request for an ethics investigation frivolous and ‘politically motivated.’ We would agree it could be politically motivated. But frivolous? The suggestion that a senator and/or his office staff keeps a list of those who don’t support him as a way to determine who he will and will not meet with should concern everyone.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/04/2011 - 04:23 pm.

    It’s true that I wasn’t a Minnesota resident for the excitement of the Franken/Coleman recount, but I’ve not seen anything since I arrived, including last November, that suggests millions ought to be spent for voter ID. 26 felons voting when they shouldn’t doesn’t strike me – in a state of 5+ million – as a problem significant enough to merit the expense I’ve been reading about.

    Also curious that the “small government” folks don’t seem to mind the idea of registering themselves ( It’s not just people of color who are offended by this.
    Surely Republicans don’t think this will apply only to those whose political views they currently find suspect?) in universal manner with the government. Today, voter ID, tomorrow, a national ID, and the slippery slope of government intrusion into one’s personal life then begins to bother even Democrats. Do the Republicans proposing this want someone with Tony Sutton’s inclinations, but on the Democratic side, checking to see if THEY’RE eligible to vote?

    Or, if Republicans insist this is all in the name of “good government” and ensuring honest elections, they won’t mind a NATIONAL ID system so that the same level of honesty and “good government” can be imparted to elections for national office. I’ll be interested in the Congressional reaction to such a proposal.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/05/2011 - 12:11 pm.

    Perhaps the Republicans want to end up at the point where India is at–beginning a numeric biometric code for each person, based on all 10 fingerprints, iris scans and facial features.

    It is instructive that the ID is being pushed as an answer to welfare fraud in India. So for the Republicans, we can address the issues of welfare fraud, voter identification, illegal alien, criminal identification, etc., all by the creation of a similar ID process, all stored in the giant NSA data bases authorized under the Patriot Act.

    Nothing creepy or intrusive about that, eh?

    I still remember the days when Republicans were fulminating about “jack booted thugs” and “black helicopters” as images of an over-intrusive government and how many of the Republicans were trying to move “off the grid” with respect to government tracking of citizens.

    I guess all it shows is how fear-driven that mentality is. There always must be something to fear, even if it is the opposite of what you feared yesterday.

    All we have to fear is fear itself.

    How true.

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