Barbara Nyhammer’s decision to sign her daughter’s name to an absentee ballot in 2008 became a cause célèbre in the raging Photo ID debate at the Capitol on Tuesday. Nyhammer, a Christian mental health therapist from Andover who said she has never had “so much as a parking ticket,” was originally charged with three counts of felony voting fraud. She eventually convinced a judge the vote was a mistaken attempt to help her daughter, not a crime. Two charges were dismissed outright, and the judge dismissed the third after Nyhammer paid $200 in court costs. “I am a woman of faith and also a patriot,” Nyhammer, 52, told the judge when her case was resolved last August. “I believe voting is a privilege that men and women fought and died for.” Nyhammer said Tuesday she feels she was a “political football” and that the case was “blown way out of proportion.”
But at the Capitol, where even the hint of vote fraud is a bombshell, a supporter of a photo ID requirement for all voters cited Nyhammer’s case as evidence that the IDs are needed. Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority, a conservative group that has investigated Minnesota’s voting practices for years, called a news conference with the Nyhammer case as exhibit A. “She robbed someone of a legitimate vote,” McGrath said. “This is a situation that would have been stopped by a photo ID amendment.” His organization claimed a $1,000 bounty offered for such evidence by the ACLU of Minnesota. ACLU officials said they were studying the case. Which was not a simple one.
With her daughter, Alexandra Lyons, away at her first year of college in Mankato, Nyhammer told the judge, an absentee ballot arrived in the daughter’s name before the 2008 election. “Just fill it in for me, Mom,” Alexandra told Nyhammer via telephone. The two of them went through every race over the phone and Nyhammer filled in her daughter’s choices. “I told my daughter that the ballot required her signature,” Nyhammer said. “She said, ‘Go ahead and sign it for me, Mom.'” After mailing in Alexandra’s ballot, Nyhammer voted in person in Andover on Nov. 4. And the daughter, alas, did the same in Mankato.
Full Article: Proponents of voter ID get their Exhibit A | StarTribune.com.