In the wake of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling on Aug. 27, Minnesotans will decide in November whether we rewrite our state Constitution to include new restrictions on voting, including the need to show photo ID at the polls. In its decision, the court affirmed the Legislature’s authority to place amendments on the ballot. Missing was proof that an amendment was even needed in this case. And that makes for an unfortunate and shortsighted opinion, one that puts Minnesota at odds with states such as Wisconsin and Missouri, where courts held that such measures are unconstitutional because they threaten citizens’ fundamental right to vote. But it goes even beyond that.
The presumption of innocence is outlined in the Fifth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Should the amendment to the Minnesota Constitution pass in November, it no longer will be “innocent until proved guilty.” The burden will be on individuals to prove they have the right to vote, not the state’s to prove they don’t. And everyone — whether they vote or not and have an ID or don’t — will be forced to pay the bill.