Tomorrow, the Republicans controlling the Minnesota State Legislature will be voting behind closed doors on whether to put an ALEC-assisted measure on this November’s ballot that will effectively strip the right to vote from tens if not hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.
The Minnesota Senate’s Local Government and Elections Committee will meet in Room 15 in the State Capitol in Saint Paul, in a conclave closed to the public, to decide whether to put a “Voter ID” voter-suppression amendment measure on the 2012 ballot. Public pressure is building against it, which is why there is such a rush to get this out of committee.
This amendment is being pushed because last year, Governor Dayton vetoed an effort to make it law and the Republicans didn’t have the votes to override his veto. If the committee agrees to it, it will then be voted on by the Minnesota House and Senate, which are likely to pass it unless they’re stopped somehow. The ballot measure cannot be stopped by a veto.
Here is what this measure will do if it becomes part of Minnesota’s constitution:
The Voter ID Amendment as proposed would: END ABSENTEE VOTING AND SAME-DAY VOTER REGISTRATION AS WE KNOW IT.
DENY THE VOTE TO OUR TROOPS. Military IDS are not valid according to the proposed voter ID policy; active-duty servicemembers defending our constitutional right to vote overseas may not be able to vote themselves.
PREVENT BALLOT ACCESS FOR MINNESOTANS WITHOUT A CURRENT ADDRESS ON THEIR ID. It is estimated that as many as one in 10 eligible voters in America do NOT have the kind of photo ID the amendment would require. That’s hundreds of thousands of voting-age Minnesotans who could be prevented from voting by this radical amendment:
18 percent of elderly citizens do not have a government-issued photo ID.
15 percent of people 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 photo ID with their current name and address.
10 percent of voters with disabilities do not have a photo ID.
25 percent of voting-age African-American citizens do not have a current, government-issued photo ID.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, the proposed photo ID amendment would affect more than 700,000 Minnesota voters. 215,000 registered voters who do not have a Minnesota drivers’ license or ID card with a CURRENT address on it, and another 500,000 eligible voters who use Election-Day registration.
Worse yet, the measure, touted by Republicans and their ALEC partners as an anti-fraud tool, is utterly useless at stopping most possible forms of fraud. ALEC-inspired “Voter ID” laws only prevent voter impersonation, a crime for which nobody has ever been convicted in Minnesota. (The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has a standing $1000 prize to anyone who can find a single case of voter fraud in the past ten years that this amendment would have stopped. So far, there are no takers.) It’s also very restrictive, moreso even than the South Carolina law that was recently struck down by the Department of Justice.
Why are the Republicans nationwide pushing these laws? To make it harder for anyone they think might vote for Democrats to actually vote. It’s as simple as that.
Go to http://www.ourvoicescountmn.org for more information. If you have friends in Minnesota, tell them about this. The votes they save may be their own.