Two groups are attempting to make voting in Minneapolis a bit more restrictive. Citizens for a Better Minneapolis and the Minnesota Voters Alliance are starting a petition in hopes of requiring that residents show a photo identification in order to vote in the city. Critics note that the majority of the activists in these groups are not Minneapolis residents, and one of the groups, Citizens for a Better Minneapolis, didn’t exist until a week ago, as a post on Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon’s blog points out. The executive director of one of the groups dismissed such criticisms as “irrelevant” and called those lodging the complaints “fruitcakes.”
The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) held a rally on Tuesday evening in Painter Park in Minneapolis to “kick off a petition drive in Minneapolis to require Photo I.D’s in City Elections,” according to a press release. The event’s featured speaker was MVA board member and former Secretary of State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, a resident of Big Lake, an exurb northwest of Minneapolis.
Like Kiffmeyer, other backers of the petition live outside Minneapolis: MVA’s executive director, Andy Cilek, lives in Eden Prairie, a suburb southeast of Minneapolis, and the group’s assistant director, Matt Marchetti, lives in North St. Paul, a suburb northwest of St. Paul. MVA co-founder Michael Degnan lives in St. Paul, while MVA board member Tom Dahlberg resides in Shorewood, a St. Paul suburb. Still another board member, Dr. Terrence Flower, lives in Hastings, near the Wisconsin border.
The only Minneapolis resident who seems to be involved in the effort is Kris Broberg, a Ron Paul Republican who recently ran for city council and who registered Citizens for a Better Minneapolis with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office last Tuesday.
Robin Garwood, an aide to Gordon, pointed out on Gordon’s Second Ward blog that MVA is “a suburban-based, right-wing organization whose main purpose has been, in my opinion, to oppose democratic empowerment of Minnesotans, mostly at the municipal level.” In an email to the Minnesota Independent, MVA’s Cilek dismissed criticisms that most of the petition’s backers are suburbanites and that the CBM is one week old.
“These characteristics that you describe are irrelevant,” said Cilek. “If you think you should print it… please do so.”
He added, “This is a statewide effort, and our leadership certainly doesn’t rely on what some fruitcake bloggers think, or Cam Gordon.”
On Gordon’s blog, Garwood explained the opposition to a photo identification mandate for voting.
This proposal will make it much harder for Minneapolis residents to vote, especially poor people, old people, young people who don’t yet have a drivers’ license. I say this as someone who has worked as an election judge in a precinct (2-10, to be specific) with a large population of elderly citizens who do not speak english as a first language and who do not have drivers licenses. This will make it harder for these residents to exercise their constitutional right to vote, but it goes beyond them. It will make it harder for everyone in Minneapolis to vote; longer lines, more inconvenience, less congeniality between voters and election judges. I am convinced that this is the proposal’s actual intent. All of the arguments about “protecting” legitimate votes are a ruse. These organizations don’t like it when Minneapolitans vote, because they typically don’t agree with us on matters of policy.