House Speaker Kurt Zellers found himself in a constitutional bind on Thursday after saying that voting was a privilege, not a right. The Maple Grove Republican made the comment Wednesday night during a local radio show, “The Late Debate.” He recanted his words on Thursday, saying he had misspoken.
The gaffe came amid a discussion of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls. That bill is nearing a vote after months of hearings.
“When you go to even a Burger King or a McDonalds and use your debit card, they’ll ask you to see your ID,” Zellers said sometime after 11 p.m. “Should we have to do that when we vote, something that is one of the most sacred — I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right. Everybody doesn’t get it, because if you go to jail or if you commit some heinous crime your rights are taken away. This is a privilege.”
The right to vote is explicitly referenced in several constitutional amendments, in addition to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.