Yes on Voter ID a blank check to legislature

On Nov. 6, Minnesota citizens will vote on an amendment to require a photo ID in order to vote, supposedly to prevent fraud. At first blush, this seems like a no-brainer. Who doesn’t like less fraud? But upon closer examination, the nebulous wording of the amendment and its possible implications are staggering.

The proposal on the ballot will read, simply, “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require that all voters present an approved form of photographic identification prior to voting; all voters be subject to identical eligibility verification standards regardless of the time of their registration; and the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible voters?” according to the Minnesota House of Representatives website.

Again, at first blush, this seems pretty straight-forward.

But as of right now, there is no settled text for what the real amendment will say. That is to be determined at a later date. What exactly does an “approved” photo ID mean? Which ones will count and which ones won’t? There are no answers to any of these questions. The Minnesota Republicans championing this amendment can’t even tell us whether student ID’s will count. Will it be an entirely new type of ID? How much will that cost? No one knows.

States with such voter ID laws replace same-day voting with provisional ballots, delaying election results and ultimately discounting untold numbers of voters who are unable to get their ID’s in time.

People who do not currently have a picture ID are those who are unlikely to drive or travel. Thus, they are disproportionately poor, young, minorities, immigrants, or the urban elderly; predominantly Democratic voters. Nationwide, as well as in Minnesota, voter ID laws are predominantly pushed by Republicans.

Infantile tactics are not new to either party, but in this case, we’re playing with something very fundamental: people’s ability to participate in the democratic process.

More troubling is the lack of specifics. The amendment to be placed on the ballot is unacceptably vague. What ID’s will work? What will it cost the state? What are the parameters to receive a free ID? How long do they take to arrive? Are we going to move to the exclusionary and litigation-choked provisional ballot model? What other provisions will be part of the real legislation?

None of these questions have answers. Voting “yes” on the voter ID proposal is essentially writing the government a blank check to make whatever provisions they want.

But there’s an even more serious question here. Do we even need a voter ID law?

According to the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, there have only been 10 cases of voter fraud in Minnesota since 2000. That’s less than one per year. Of those 10 cases, nine were felons who were ineligible to vote.

We do not have a voter fraud problem. Voter ID legislation is a “cure” for a non-existent ailment, which is really designed to be a slap at political opponents.

Vote “no” on November 6. Vote “no” to fictitious narratives, vote “no” to denying Americans full opportunity to vote, and vote “no” to using the people as a hammer for the games politicians play on the hill.