Sunday night, March 25, we tuned in on the new PBS series entitled “Finding Your Roots”, where historian Henry Louis Gates explores roots with prominent citizens. We watched the episode featuring political leaders Newark NJ Mayor Cory Booker and GA Cong. John Lewis, and at approximately the 42 minute mark of the program, Lewis made this quote:
The Vote is the most powerful instrument; the most powerful nonviolent tool in a democratic society.
(You can watch the program on-line. It’s about 50 minutes.)
In its complete context, the John Lewis segment in particular is truly extraordinary. We tend to take rights, like the right to vote, for granted, until we lose them.
Just days earlier, (March 20 and 23) an initiative I would call the “Kiffmeyer Suppression of Voters Rights Amendment” passed both houses of the Minnesota Legislature, strictly on party line votes. Once the versions are reconciled, and a final version passed, we voters will have to deal with a proposed constitutional amendment in November. It bypasses the Governor, who likely would have vetoed similar legislation since there was no bi-partisan agreement). The seemingly innocuous amendment has huge negative implications for possibly hundreds of thousands of totally legal voters, who have voted for years in past Minnesota elections.
The actual legislation is really very simple to read. Click here, then simply type in HF 2738 in the box, mark “both” and enter. All information is readily available. What’s lost in the few words is the negative implications for future voters if the initiative passes in November.
Rep Mary Kiffmeyer, carrying the Bill, is a state legislator and former MN secretary of state, but more importantly she is representing powerful outside special interests that have an interest in diminishing the rights of certain legal voters.
I’ve been interested in an old e-mail (August, 2010) which is a fundraising letter in which Mary Kiffmeyer is given prominent billing as “Former Secretary of State”…”who serves on our [organizations] Board”. (See end of this post for more on this.)
The same letter notes the names of seven apparently highly prominent founding contributors: Stanley Hubbard, George Anderson, Rudy Boschwitz, Martin Kellogg, John Kinkead, Dale Zoerb and David Frauenshuh). Their organization proposes to “require PHOTO ID in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth”. Its real dream seems to be to dominate Minnesota Government for the long term by making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to vote.
There is time between now and November to become very aware of the implications of this proposed constitutional amendment, if in fact it passes and goes on the ballot.
Real people – you and I – are the only antidote to this ill-considered attempt to gain a permanent political advantage in our state.
We need to know the facts, and let others know.
Do take time to watch the program mentioned in the first paragraph. You can watch on-line. Cong. Lewis walked the walk with Dr. Martin Luther King and others in the 1950s and 1960s to restore the right to vote gained after the Civil War, then soon thereafter wrested away for nearly the next 100 years. He and his colleagues paid the price for all of us.
The letter referred to above is accessible at the end of this paragraph. I have redacted only specific contact information – if someone is interested they can search this out themselves. The fundraising memo is full of difficult to impossible to verify innuendo (“numerous states” et al) and targeting (“St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth”). I am most interested in the “140 of 480″ referenced. At the groups website there are 107 candidates listed who signed the pledge. Many of these were elected. Here’s the letter: Voter 18 Aug 2010003 Most likely Rep Kiffmeyer is a silent partner in this group at this point in time, but definitely connected.