A coalition of groups led by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters made arguments in Minnesota’s Supreme Court yesterday against a ballot measure that would amend the state’s constitution to “require all voters to present valid photographic identification to vote.” The plaintiffs argue that the measure’s language obscures how the constitution would be changed. “Valid photographic identification” would only include those that were government-issued, and not other forms of ID, such as those issued by schools. Minnesota remains one of only seven states that does not use a provisional ballot system. This measure would institute provisional voting, but lawyers argue that the measure is misleading because it makes no mentione of the significant change to the way votes are counted when using provisional ballots. The measure, which will be decided by voters in November if the state’s high court allows it, also requires “the state to provide free identification to eligible voters.” Yet those IDs wouldn’t exactly be free—at minimum, taxpayers would foot the bill, as would voters who would first need to obtain a $26 birth certificate and travel up to 100 miles to a Department of Vehicle Services office to apply for their ID.
The voter ID measure is supported by Minnesota Majority, which has been accused of using a racist ad to call attention to the imaginary problem of voter fraud. The ad in question features a black man in a prison uniform, and a Mariachi musician waiting in line to vote. The court is expected to issue its decision by August 27, so the Secretary of State’s office will know whether to print up this fall’s ballots with the constitutional amendment proposal.
But not everyone’s waiting until the state’s Supreme Court decision to do something. I spoke with Miracle Randle by phone about her decision to begin working with TakeAction Minnesota’s Stop Photo ID campaign. A rising senior at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, this 22-year-old feels she’s inherited a legacy of civil rights. I spoke to her while she was at the school library, where she was studying for a class she’s currently enrolled in, before she took off to a meeting to strategize about the campaign she’s working on. Randle works in a phone bank, as well as in groups of four people who go door-to-door to talk with potential voters about this fall’s ballot measure.