When we buy a product, we try to make certain we are getting what we want. We like to think of ourselves as smart shoppers. We owe no less diligence when it comes to voting on a constitutional amendment — particularly one that dramatically changes the way we vote. The voting right is the crux of a democracy. Countless Americans gave their lives in order that we may have this remarkable gift. We in Minnesota lead the nation in voter turnout, and our elections are the most honest. We have recently gone through two very close elections and recounts without a single case of fraud. There is a reason why — our insistence that election laws be designed in a bipartisan fashion. That is key. No party should have an election advantage. Unfortunately, the voter ID constitutional amendment was passed by the Legislature on a strict party-line vote. Not one Democrat in either the House or the Senate voted for it. Not one.
Further, this proposed amendment does not have its origins in Minnesota, nor does it come about as a result of legislative studies of recent elections. It is a product of an organization known as ALEC, which is the creation of the Koch brothers, who amassed their fortunes in oil and who live in Florida. The goal of ALEC is to influence legislators across the nation. The overall goal of this amendment is largely to eliminate election-day registration, directly affecting more than 500,000 Minnesota voters. The new law will require a government-issued photo ID listing a voter’s home address. This can be challenging particularly for students, the elderly, the military, absentee voters or anyone who moves.
In the case of a student, their driver’s license (the presumed acceptable ID) carries their home address, but not their college address. For a student from Rochester attending St. Cloud State University, it would mean not being able to vote in St. Cloud but only in Rochester, some 150 miles away. How many of us would be willing to drive 150 miles each way in order to vote? For the elderly, it is a problem of having a driver’s license with the updated address of the nursing home or retirement facility. In addition, many simply no longer drive.