Voter ID: You have to prove the need for an amendment

I was going to comment on Sen. Dave Senjem’s op-ed in the Strib because I think it is one of the more entertaning bits of delusional observation in a session full of delusion….but I decided that 14 or 15 hours of debate on the “no job creating” Voter ID bill has to be addressed one more time.

I’ll get to Senjem later in the weekend….

But here is the deal on Voter ID.

Conservatives seem to be content to believe that the left has to find reasons for Voter ID not to be on the November ballot, when actually the opposite is true. The GOP has to prove that there really is a need for it to be there.

To me, an amendment to the Constitution has to meet at least one of the following criteria.. A) Fix a legal problem; B) change the document to meet a compelling public interest; C) Address a problem that cannot be addressed in any other way.

So let’s discuss that.

A) Fix A Legal Problem. The Republicans have spent a lot of valuable legislative time on this issue. In fact, they have been obsessed with Voter ID since the Franken-Coleman contest in 2008. Out of that 2008 Senate race, Minnesota’s voting system was analyzed to an almost impossible degree and the only thing that really was contested was how we treat absentee ballots. That issue has been addressed and fixed. Does the Voter ID enhance that fix or does it address any other voting issue? Short answer NO. Minnesota Majority spent an inordinate amount of money trying to prove flaws in Minnesota’s voting system. The only things they managed to find were some felon voting irregularities which amounted to 0.004% of the votes involved in 2008 and one case of voter “impersonation” that resulted in a conviction. A mother voted for her daughter by mistake; not realizing she had voted at her college. What she did was wrong but still doesn’t even rise to any tangible level of fraud.

So I have yet to see a legal problem that needs a Constitutional fix.

B) Compelling Public Interest. The reason this issue has become prominent is that Republicans have bypassed the idea of proving any real fraud and made their argument from a simple “protecting voting integrity” assertion. Of course, everyone wants voting to be perfect and fraud free. And the actual fact of the matter is that it IS nearly perfect. But the proponents of Voter ID have decided that they don’t have to use factual issues for the problem, they only have to maintain that Minnesota’s voting system needs to be ever more perfect. OK, fine. We can look for improvements, but does this rise to the need for an amendment to the Constitution? Absolutely not.

There is no compelling public interest here.

C) Address a Problem That Cannot Be Addressed In Any Other Way. OK…is this true? Is there no other way to fix this than to add another amendment to the Constitution? Answers: Not True. And Yes there is. Since the Republicans insist on fixing a problem that doesn’t need fixing, there actually is a way to legislatively addres any of their concerns. A simple remedy….the electronic poll book. It is safe, secure, and can be implemented relatively easily. Even though it is not needed, this compromise would address Republican “concerns”. We don’t have to proceed to an amendment process…. a process that cannot be fully fixed until the next legislature has a real bill that meets the criteria which would now be instilled into the Constitution if it passes in November.

So..there is a fix. Republicans just choose to ignore it.

There you have it. In place of working on jobs, this legislature has spent an enormous amount of time and energy on a problem that still does not exist….and even if it did, has a clear legislative remedy.

Of course the polls indicate that this has public support. When you ask Minnesotans if they want a fraud free voting system, they most certainly will say, “Yes, by all means”.

The irony of it all is that they already have the best system in the country. But then the GOP would have to admit they are wasting everyone’s time. It’s easier to just keep promoting the distortion.

This post was written David Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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