I am writing to urge voters to reject the Voter ID amendment to the state constitution on the ballot this fall. This amendment is being sold as a common sense way to prevent fraud in elections in our state. This is disingenuous to say the least.
Voter fraud is, for all practical purposes, a non-issue in the state of Minnesota. The number of cases prosecuted since 2008 for voter fraud is 156; that’s approximately 0.005 percent of the nearly 3 million votes cast in that time. Of those cases, most represent convicted felons registering to vote (though some did not actually vote) and approximately 36 of those cases are still pending. Complicating the matter, a majority of states (38), though not Minnesota, allow felons to vote during incarceration or afterwards; some confusion amongst convicted felons on that point may cause them to register in error.
A second argument against the Voter ID amendment is pure and basic. The amendment would change our constitution, the document which protects our basic rights, in such a way as to make it more difficult for some of us to vote. Elderly, home-bound, and disabled citizens are disproportionately affected by this requirement, having to find transportation to the appropriate government office , much less find the required documents (birth certificate, SS card, marriage license, etc) in order to get the required ID. Practices that have made Minnesota a leader in voter turn out, such as same day voter registration, would become much more difficult if not impossible. The result is not a better democracy but suppressed voter turn out. In our democracy, voting is our most basic right. We should not impede a citizen’s right to vote in any way with out the most dire of reasons.
The Voter ID amendment is a solution in search of a problem. We don’t have a voter fraud problem in this state. What we have is a highly engaged electorate that is encouraged by our states current laws to vote. Imposing an ID requirement is an undue burden to some of our citizens, and a violation of our basic right to a government for and by the people.