Supporters of proposed voting amendment rally in St. Paul

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Wall Street Journal writer and author John Fund speaking at the Protect My Vote rally at O’Gara’s bar.

With a degree of pride, Fadumo Yusuf, a Somali immigrant living in Fridley, offered her photo identification when she showed up at the Protect My Vote rally at O’Gara’s bar in St. Paul. She knew it wasn’t necessary but wanted to make a statement of her support for the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Fadumo Yusuf
MinnPost photo by Brian HallidayFadumo Yusuf

“I believe that passing this law, having a photo I.D. is good,” she said Monday night. As an immigrant, she said, she frequently encounters requests for identification and cannot understand the opposition. “What are you hiding, why are you refusing?” she wondered.

Yusuf reflected the tone of the crowd of about 100 at what was billed as a kick-off of the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment requiring photo identification before casting a ballot and other changes in voting procedures.

The event featured Wall Street Journal writer and author John Fund, whose recent book “Who’s Counting” describes the recount travails of the 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate race, won by Al Franken by 312 votes. Fund’s premise is that the pros and cons of the voter identification boil down to a clash of visions.

“It is so important that we have the maximum possible voter turnout, everything else is unimportant or secondary,” he said in an interview, describing opposition to voter I.D. “It’s the right not to be blocked from voting versus the right not to have your vote canceled out by someone who shouldn’t be voting.

“I don’t think this is a left right-issue. I think this is an up-or-down issue. If this were a left-right issue, it would be polarized outside the political elites, 50-50.”

Most polls show support for similar voting amendments crosses party, gender and race lines. In Minnesota, polling consistently has shown a wide margin of support for the proposed amendment.

“Voter fraud is bipartisan,” Fund said, for partisan gain. “There’s stuff going on behind the curtain that they prefer not to see.”

John Fund
MinnPost photo by Brian HallidayJohn Fund signing copies of his book “Who’s Counting.”

Fund acknowledges the good intentions of opponents like the Our Vote, Our Future campaign. They argue that the most vulnerable citizens, without up-to-date identification, would be disenfranchised, unable to penetrate the bureaucratic maze to procure valid documents. 

State GOP Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, the former Minnesota secretary of state and author of the voting amendment legislation, says that if the proposal becomes law, it will be “very generous” in accommodating all voters. “The law will require a valid, government-issued photo ID or substantial equivalent to make sure that the disadvantaged get IDs,” she said, stressing the word “equivalent.”

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer

In an interview at the rally, she ticked off a list of what she said were protections: the I.D.s will be free, outreach will be substantial and the law will provide for an expansion of provisional ballots that will allow a person without valid identification to vote on Election Day and provide proper verification of identity with a week.

Opponents say the details of these protections are not spelled out in the language of the proposed constitutional amendment and remain a hazy goal of additional legislation. 

Kiffmeyer expressed confidence that the 2013 session of the Legislature will accomplish that goal, with a minimum of obstruction. 

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie argues  that the requirement that voters must show a photo ID at the polls is only a small part of far-reaching language that actually would end up dismantling or significantly altering absentee balloting and Minnesota’s popular Election Day registration system.

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Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/11/2012 - 11:18 am.

    Kiffmeyer doesn’t understand her own amendment

    This is THE most restrictive voter ID in the country, it creates the most barriers for voters who have a right to vote. I’d like to know what kind of ID the Somali woman presented, if it was her immigration ID someone should tell her that THAT will NOT get her a normal ballot on election day. Passports, military ID’s, immigration IDs etc. will not bet valid IDs. Only MN state issued IDs with a current address registered 30 days in advance will get you a normal ballot on election day.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/11/2012 - 11:31 am.

    Even 39% of democrats favor the amendment

    “According to [the latest KSTP/SurveyUSA] poll, 62 percent of Minnesotans support the idea of requiring photo ID’s to vote on Election Day, while 31 percent oppose. Just 7 percent are undecided. A huge majority of Republicans, 87 percent, favor the amendment along with 65 percent of independent voters. Democrats oppose the measure by a 53 percent to 39 percent margin.”

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 09/11/2012 - 01:46 pm.

      Would they feel the same way if they understood all the ramifications of the amendment, such as the expense required to provide everyone eligible to vote in Minnesota (approximately 3 million people) with a picture ID that proves both current address AND citizenship AND lack of felony convictions?

      • Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 09/11/2012 - 02:23 pm.

        picture ID that proves both current address AND citizenship AND

        “expense required to provide everyone eligible to vote in Minnesota (approximately 3 million people) with a picture ID that proves both current address AND citizenship AND lack of felony convictions?” The cost to do the three things just mentioned by Karen Sandness, by one ID, is over a billion dollars, and even then it would be impossible for the id Card to be up to date with the correct information. No software system exists today that can do all three. Any software program needed to do what the amendment wants, will have to be developed. A program of that size and complexity is beyond the capabilities of a state government to develop on there own. Don’t believe me, ask one of your IT people where you work..

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/12/2012 - 11:03 am.

          Even if that software were developed…

          …there’s the QUALITY of those databases to consider.

          We’d better not bet the farm on getting accurate results if such a system were developed !!

      • Submitted by Kyle Thomas on 09/11/2012 - 10:13 pm.

        Woah Karen


        The vast, vast majority of this state actually has photo ID. According to the Star Tribune it would be 215,000 people allegedly that would not have one to vote. And of those most should be able to afford the $13 it is to get one. You realize if you have to go to court in either county (which due process is promised to us in our bill of rights) you have to present a photo ID. Doesn’t that bother you?

        • Submitted by Richard Molby on 09/12/2012 - 05:56 am.

          No, you don’t need to show an ID to go to court.

        • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 09/12/2012 - 08:37 am.

          Poll tax

          Kyle, thirteen dollars doesn’t sound like much if you are buying dinner but in a democracy, which is what the USA is supposed to be this is considered a Poll tax. So if I don’t have 13 dollars I don’t have a right to vote? That’s a pretty slippery slope and you are on it with 90% of us.

    • Submitted by Rich Crose on 09/11/2012 - 02:32 pm.

      A Huge Majority

      In the ’60’s, a huge majority didn’t support equal rights for minorities. Our constitution is designed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Strict Constitutionalist’s should know that.

  3. Submitted by Kyle Thomas on 09/11/2012 - 02:46 pm.

    Yes we will pay for it!

    Yes, we want to pay for elections where everyone proves who they are. Wouldn’t the left applaud free ID’s for those who don’t have any? Now they will be able to ride buses, use banks, and do a lot more that they were unable to do before without an ID.

    • Submitted by Richard Molby on 09/12/2012 - 05:58 am.

      First, you do not need any ID to ride a bus. Second, you do not need to use a bank to be a human being.

      • Submitted by Kyle Thomas on 09/13/2012 - 08:02 am.

        Rich don’t put up smoke


        I am not making the argument that voting is the same as bus riding or banks. However if the less fortunate among us have ID’s more opportuniites such as reduced busfare would be available. Why would you be against that?

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/11/2012 - 08:48 pm.

    Manifest ideology

    If ever there was something that went through the Minnesota legislature with the stink of ALEC about it, this would be that idea.

    Defenders of this proposed amendment are the same people who don’t WANT to pay taxes, yet their tax bills will go up significantly to put it into practice, and unlike the implication from Mr. Thomas, many of those who currently don’t have the exact kind of ID the amendment would require will not be living totally different lives as a result of having to acquire such an ID.

    More to the point, and largely ignored in Cyndy’s piece, is the rationale for all this, and that’s voter fraud. It doesn’t exist in Minnesota to any significant degree, so this egregious violation of the right to vote is being perpetrated on an unsuspecting public – the “unsuspecting” part is largely why Mr. Tester can gleefully point to the approval figures among some Democrats – to “solve” a problem that doesn’t exist, but that everyone, including those of us who already have the requisite ID, will have to pay for, ad infinitum.

    No genuine conservative, especially no true libertarian, could support this proposal. Those that do support it are essentially the modern-day version of Jim Crow.

    • Submitted by Karen Cole on 09/12/2012 - 09:33 pm.

      And the $13 may not be the biggest impediment

      But rather the extra time required to jump through the hoops to get an acceptable ID.

      Not a problem for most of us, but what if you are working two or three jobs, or have a house-ful of young kids.

      And, as Ray points out, why should there be any impediment when there’s no problem to solve.

      • Submitted by Kyle Thomas on 09/13/2012 - 08:04 am.


        If you are working two or three jobs you would need a valid state issued ID for employement and to prove citizenship, at least in most reputable places that actually take taxes out of your paycheck. Pretty thin argument there.

        If you have a house full of kids I imgiane you need to go grocery shopping or if you need to vote you need to step away. Let’s get real here, we are not asking someone to go to Jupiter, you have four or two years depending on the election to get a state ID, and if you are poor the state will pay for it. Why wouldn’t you want this poor mother with two jobs and several kids to not have an ID. Do you not like poor people?

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/11/2012 - 10:02 pm.

    /”Of course, both parties play the turnout game. Democrats would prefer hordes of voters on college campuses and in inner cities; Republicans would prefer the opposite; both sides do what they can to get as many of “their” voters to the polls as possible. And of course, But when tactics turn from encouraging one’s own voters to vote and setting up legal barriers to prevent the other side from doing so, that is something much nastier—particularly when those most directly impacted by these legal barriers were similarly barred from voting by “legal” barriers for most of this country’s history. Eventually, and sooner rather than later, demography will make this sort of strategy unworkable for electoral reasons. Until then, we ought to recognize it for what it is: deliberate voter suppression, and a betrayal of democracy.”/

  6. Submitted by Kyle Thomas on 09/11/2012 - 10:08 pm.

    Huh Rich?

    So the majority of voters in this country did not believe in civil rights? Do you have a reputable poll to back this up? I am not talking about the composition of the Senate which mostly Democrats were against the Civil Rights laws (for example famed KKK leader Robert Byrd). Gotta back up these crazy statements with facts…

  7. Submitted by Richard Molby on 09/12/2012 - 05:54 am.

    “According to [the latest KSTP/SurveyUSA] poll…” ‘Nuff said. KSTP viewers trend a lot more conservative than viewers of other stations and the rest of the state so quoting their poll is far from scientific.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 09/12/2012 - 08:34 am.

      All Polls Have Proven…

      Whether it’s KSTP or any other poll, all polls for the last few years when the subject has been brought up has an overwhelming majority of approval. As mentioned in a previous post, it crosses party affiliations.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/13/2012 - 12:31 pm.


    Yes, many polls show that a majority of people think an ID of kind at the polls is a good idea. The problem is that this amendment and all the photo ID laws don’t simply add a photo ID to the existing voting system, they change the criteria dramatically and restrict legal voters. Support for ID falls dramatically when people find that out. This will come down to one thing, if we can get the word out what this amendment really does, it will fail because the vast majority of voters do NOT want to disenfranchise legal voters. By the way, support for this amendment already looks like it’s slipping, it’s below 60% now. Supporters have been point to 70+% numbers for years so they lost 10% and we’re just beginning to debate this.

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