On April 4, 2012, a bill was passed that would ask voters to determine if Article VII of the Minnesota Constitution should be changed. The proposed change — often referred to as the voter ID amendment — would be the first time in Minnesota’s history that a voter’s eligibility would be determined by possessing an object — a government-issued photo identification or its yet to be defined ‘substantial equivalent.’
To be sure, all Americans want to protect the integrity of our elections. But there are better options than requiring voters to produce the kind of government-issued ID that one in ten voters don’t have. America has made great progress toward guaranteeing the fundamental right to vote for all our eligible citizens. We cannot afford to turn back the clock to an era when politically motivated laws prevented too many of us from exercising our constitutional right to vote.
Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920 (Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Laws preventing race or color as a disqualifier were not eliminated until 1870 (Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Jim Crow quickly snatched away that right for all practical purposes, however, as poll taxes and literacy tests denied blacks that fundamental right. Now, we have voter ID laws, elimination of same day registration, and reducing early voting periods. 2011 in fact, saw the biggest rollbacks of voting rights in a generation.
Did you know that 15 states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). These states account for 203 electoral votes, or 75 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. At least 180 restrictive bills have been introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states in a very calculated effort to roll back voting rights.
The Minnesota voter ID amendment is a bad idea with too many unintended consequences. An estimated 2.7 percent of registered voters (84,000) appear to lack a state-issued ID, another 4 percent (131,000) hold IDs that do not show their current voting address.
Voter ID will prohibit thousands of eligible voters – mainly the elderly and disabled who don’t have a valid driver’s license or ID card, soldiers who fought to protect our freedoms and college students who register the same day they vote.
Unlike an earlier writer’s commentary in the October 11th Jordan Independent, it is not an “insult to our intelligence”, it is just plain wrong to place hurdles in front of Minnesotans to limit our constitutional right to vote, and silence our voices in elections.
I keep hearing about people voting AGAINST this amendment or AGAINST that person. They are missing the point. When you vote, you are voting FOR something or FOR someone. You can vote FOR voter suppression or you can vote FOR one’s freedom to vote.
I Say Yes to Voter Freedom on November 6th!
|Free Speech Zone
The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. The opinions expressed in the Free Speech Zone and Neighborhood Notes, as well as the opinions of bloggers, are their own and not necessarily the opinion of the TC Daily Planet.