A devout Methodist friend passed along a photo his daughter snapped while driving down University Avenue in Coon Rapids. With his daughter, he also shared befuddlement at the say yes to voter restriction sign on the lawn of a suburban church.
He could understand the marriage amendment sign, he wrote, although he doesn’t share their version of Christianity, “but where is the photo ID in the Bible??”
Bluestem could offer no solace or comforting explanation, except that those who are born again don’t seem to need a new certificate of birth.
The biblical mandate for voter restriction must be one of those mysteries that passeth all understanding of the tax code.
Post Bulletin publishes editorial roundup
Jay Furst at the Post Bulletin writes in What other newspapers are saying about voter ID amendment:
We’re talking about doing a roundup of editorials from other Minnesota newspapers on the two proposed constitutional amendments. Here’s an early indicator…news release from Our Vote, Our Future, the anti-amendment group, so with that caveat:
St. Paul, MN –ECM Newspapers, a statewide chain of more than 20 papers in suburban, exurban and Greater Minnesota, has declared in an editorial its opposition to the Voter Restriction amendment. With this editorial, ECM Newspapers joins a rapidly growing list of Greater Minnesota papers — including the Mankato Free Press, Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Marshall Independent and McLeod County Chronicle — in recently opposing the Voter Restriction amendment. . . .
While readers may recall seeing most of the editorials mention here as they were published, it’s a most impressive collection assembled in one place. Go check it out.
Also in the PB: the Answer Man complies local incumbents’ votes on both amendments in Secret’s out on how legislators voted after being asked:
Dear Answer Man, I haven’t seen one campaign ad from an incumbent legislator that brags about having voted to put either of the constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. For that matter, I haven’t seen an ad from any candidate that expresses an opinion on the amendments, which I’m going to assume is a cop-out. Millions of dollars are being spent on the campaigns that our Legislature set in motion. Isn’t it weird that legislative candidates aren’t taking credit or casting blame?
Bottom line is, how did area legislators vote on the marriage amendment and voter ID amendment? — Politically Interested
Certainly a worthy question. Read the response at the PB.
Add one more to the list of papers questioning the amendment: the New Richland Star Eagle. Editorial assistant Jessica Lutgens writes in Voter ID bill faces opposition:
There are many reasons why there is a high opposition to the upcoming amendment to our state’s Constitution, which, if passed, will require all voters in the state of Minnesota to provide a government-issued photo identification when casting their ballots.
Senator Scott Newman, author of the proposed amendment, calls it an “additional measure of integrity,” and says it will “add photo identification to manage age, residency and citizenship voting requirements already in the state Constitution.”
Some supporters of the amendment argue it will help curtail voter fraud and restore confidence in the election system. And while that may be true, there are many more arguments outlining the negative effects of the bill and urging citizens to vote “no” when it appears on the November 6, 2012 ballot.
Some of those who oppose the amendment include: American Association of Retired Persons, League of Women Voters of Minnesota, Minnesota Common Cause, American Civil Liberties Union, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, former Vice President Walter Mondale, and former Governor Arne Carlson.
“New voter ID would disproportionately affect older voters because we know they’re less likely to have the required identification,” said Amy McDonough, spokesperson for the American Association of Retired Persons. . . .
In more realistic terms, this would cost each county in Minnesota large sums, even rural counties. The total for Rice County, with around 65,000 residents, would be around $120,000; Kittson County, holding around 4,500 residents, would have to pay a total of around $730,000; $1.7 million for Ramsey County; Faribault, around $100,000; Le Sueur, about $230,000; Steele, $235,000; Freeborn, $210,000; and Waseca, $140,000.
Please note these are just estimates, but that doesn’t change the fact that it will be extremely costly for taxpayers.
Newsy: Of auditors and candidates
A local election official spells out his concerns with the amendment in St. Louis County auditor: Educate yourself on voter ID amendment. Don Dicklich writes:
. . .There is a lot here that is not apparent in the ballot question on which will be voted. Particularly troubling is the requirement that those not voting in person are subject to “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification” prior to casting a ballot. How does that work for our military serving overseas or out of the country? Absentee and mail-ballot precinct voters would be impacted. St. Louis County is the largest county in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. It covers 7,000 square miles with 200,226 residents. It is larger than three states. Many areas are remote, and long distances would have to be traveled to show photo identification. In St. Louis County, there are 17 mail-ballot precincts (in unorganized townships) in which 1,722 registered voters live. Think how passage of this amendment would impact them.
In the 2008 presidential election, 7,976 residents voted absentee. Nearly all of them requested their ballot via Internet. They could not receive a ballot or cast a ballot without showing their government-issued photo identification, if the amendment passes.
There were 20,142 Election Day registrants who voted. They most likely would be impacted by provisional-ballot rules, if the amendment were to pass. Many provisional ballots are never counted. As post-election vote tallies are made public, many provisional voters never return to fulfill ID requirements, and their votes are never counted. For others, just the inconvenience of having to travel to the county seat, particularly in St. Louis County, to show ID is unpalatable, and, again, their votes are never counted.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary definition of “disenfranchise” is: to deprive of a legal right, especially the right to vote. Does the right to vote only include the act of voting or does it include the right to have your vote counted? I believe it is the latter.
I express neither support for or against the amendment here, but I ask voters to educate themselves about its impacts were it to pass. I’ve highlighted a few considerations here. I do confess somewhat selfishly that if the amendment were to pass election administration would become particularly more complex in St. Louis County. And with complexity comes significantly higher costs — costs borne by property taxpayers.
Down on the Iowa Border, the Fairmont Sentinel reports in Candidates talk voter IDs:
A pair of local candidates for state office weighed in Saturday on the voter ID amendment to the state constitution that Minnesotans will accept or reject on election day.
State Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, is seeking re-election to the House in District 23A. Paul Marquardt, a Democrat from Eagle Lake, is trying to win the Senate District 23 seat.
Gunther and Marquardt were guests of People First, a group run for and by people with disabilities, at Friendship Village in Fairmont. People First operates under the umbrella of The Arc Minnesota, which opposes the amendment. The proposal would require citizens to present a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, in order to vote. The state would issue free IDs to those requesting them.
Arc believes voter ID would create barriers and burdens for Minnesotans with disabilities, whether they live in a nursing home, a veterans home, a group home, etc.
LeeAnn Erickson, a longtime advocate for the disabled, cited the example of her 91-year-old mother who lives in a nursing home. She said her mom suffered a stroke 12 years ago, and wouldn’t be able to go somewhere to get a photo for a picture ID. Rounding up her mom’s birth certificate also would be difficult. Erickson said her mother would find the whole process to be a hassle and a hurdle. She worries this situation would be repeated across the state, as citizens would essentially give up their voting rights.
Read the candidates’ responses at the Sentinel.
They get letters: using a bazooka to shot a fly
The stream of letters to editors opposing the amendment continues statewide. Kay Spangler of Preston writes to the Spring Grove Herald in There is more to voter ID than you think:
. . . Voting yes on the amendment will initiate major changes in Minnesota’s voting process and goes far beyond requiring a photo ID to vote. The amendment is an unfunded mandate.
A University of Minnesota study found that almost 90 percent of the revenue needed to implement the amendment will come from local governments and will result in increased property taxes. In the first year costs are projected to be $70 million. Expenses include a computerized voting system, maintenance and replacement of equipment, pay for additional election judges, a provisional balloting system, public education, and free photo IDs for voters.
More than 500,000 Minnesotans use the same-day voter registration system and more than half of all Minnesotans have used it in their voting history. Minnesota has one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country due to the same-day system. The provisional balloting system will end the same-day voter registration. . . .
Voter fraud is a stated purpose for the Voter ID Amendment. Should a permanent amendment to our constitution be adopted when the evidence of voter fraud due to unverifiable same-day registration in 2008 was 0.221 percent?
Up at the Grand Forks Herald, Treasure Omdahl writes in Voter ID plan uses bazooka to shoot fly:
This year, Minnesotans will be voting on a constitutional amendment that requires photo ID to vote in elections. While it seems reasonable, it’s important to study the issue further.
For one thing, no one in Minnesota ever has been convicted of voter impersonation. Most convictions are of felons who voted before they had completed probation; and the amendment will not cure that problem because no photo ID lists a person as a felon.
Yes, a free photo ID would be available for those who need one, but there are other big costs, including the need to educate the public about the requirement. Can you imagine going to the polls, only to learn you won’t be allowed to vote?
Those costs would go to both the state and local governments.
Hennepin County says the requirements would have cost more than $500,000 per election in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Ramsey Co. estimates it would cost them up to $1.7 million. . . .
. . .There are good reasons to modernize our voting procedures, but they should be studied with input from all of our state representations and the public.
I think many Minnesotans have good ideas on how voting can best be accomplished. Let’s go that route.
Those are words to treasure. In the Aitkin Age, Jane Dietl and Jim Lynskey enumerate reasons to vote no in Don’t suppress voting with amendment:
First, Minnesota has a long, proud history of clean elections with high turnout. Incidents of fraud are rare, often committed by felons who simply failed to understand they were not eligible to vote. The proposed amendment is a “solution seeking a problem.”
Second, the Minneapolis city clerk’s office recently issued a report that estimated the amendment, if passed, would cost $50 million for our state and local governments to implement the new ID requirements and another $10 million in ongoing operational costs. That’s a lot of precious taxpayer money for a non-problem.
Third, the amendment is ill defined in terms of who will write the rules of implementation and what kind of rules are necessary.
Fourth, clearly the real intent of the proposed amendment is to suppress the turnout of voters likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Many seniors, students, minorities, the disabled, low income workers and others will have difficulty obtaining the voter ID cards for a host of reasons.
TJ Green of Cambridge writes the Isanti County News in Vote no on Voter ID:
Before you vote on the Voter ID Amendment, please consider that putting this amendment into the state constitution would deny citizens of their legal right to vote. Consider these statistic [sic] from the non-partisan League of Women Voters Minnesota:
• 18 percent of elderly citizens do not have a government-issued photo ID.
• 15 percent of voters earning less than $35,000 a year do not have a photo ID.
• 18 percent of citizens aged 18-24 do not have a government-issued ID with their current address and name.
• 10 percent of voters with disabilities do not have a photo ID.
• 25 percent of African-American citizens of voting age do not have a current, government-issued ID.
In the East Otter Tail Focus, Perham Health CEO Chuck Hofius writes in Voter ID would alienate seniors:
All of us will be voting on a constitutional amendment this November to require voter IDs. It seems simple in concept, but it is much more difficult in practice.
As someone who works with the elderly, I am very concerned about how this amendment will alienate our seniors.
You may be surprised to know that over 40 percent of people living in nursing homes, assisted living, and senior housing do not have a state issued ID. Many let their driver’s license go at some point and never got a state issued ID card. To obtain one, they need to travel to a license bureau. For Perham residents, that means traveling to Wadena or Detroit Lakes. Many are no longer able to do that, or the hardship of doing that for something they need only once every two years seems overwhelming and they decline.
Seniors are typically the most dedicated group of voters. They have given so much to all of us. Many fought for our country, protecting our right to hold these free elections. I truly feel it is shameful for us to make their ability to vote more difficult. If we were truly solving a problem, it may be worth it. But Minnesota has not had a voter fraud problem. We have had two major statewide recounts in recent years where ballots were scrutinized, and no significant voter fraud was found. Some are trying to find a fix for a problem that doesn’t exist.
Please don’t alienate our seniors who have given us so much and are the ones who taught us to be responsible citizens and vote. Vote ‘no’ on voter ID.
There’s more. Barb and Bud Harmes of LaCrescent ask readers of the LaCrosse Tribune to Vote no on Minnesota amendments:
We encourage all Minnesota voters to vote no on both proposed constitutional amendments.
Neither of these proposals improves our state or our way of life. If the amendments are approved, we are only using our government to unnecessarily limit personal freedom and to hurt others.
The proposal to require a photo ID at the polls is a costly solution to a problem that does not exist. The integrity of our voter system is known to be intact. The only thing this proposal will do is make it more difficult for some individuals — the elderly, young adults and the poor — to vote, and it will cost state taxpayers more than $40 million to administrate. This is simply a waste of money and time.
The proposal to limit marriage to a man and woman will not protect anyone’s marriage or family or religious commitments, but it will hurt children and their parents in “non-traditional” families. Our state should be about creating laws that support and help all families, regardless of their religious or personal beliefs.
Voting no on both questions maintains our Minnesota traditions of fairness and community.
That’s a fair sample of letters appearing across the state.
To learn about opportunities talk to your neighbors and friends about why they should vote no on voter restriction, visit Our Vote, Our Future. To learn more about the consequences of the amendment for Greater Minnesota, check out Greater MN Counts. Like the Facebook page Minnesotans Vote No Twice.
Images: A church in Coon Rapids (top); DFL SD 23 senate candidate Paul Marquardt (middle); Vote No Twice (bottom).