Seems straight forward enough: To cut down on voter fraud, ensure that all persons who vote show their ID. Two state representatives in Minnesota want their state to join eight others in requiring identification to verify that you are who you claim to be.
Currently in Minnesota, if you are registered 20 days before the election, you can show up at the polls in Minnesota without a state ID and still vote.
But, Minnesota is also one of the few states that allow same-day registration.
So, to register on the same day in Minnesota at least then you have to show a state ID, right? Nope. In fact, Minnesota election laws are so lenient (and open to fraud) that you can show up at the polling place without any ID so long as you have: “A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath.”
This might be a good time for me to remind you that Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman by 312 votes in Minnesota’s 2008 Senate race.
So it would make sense that Rep. Mike Benson and Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (who once served Minnesota as Secretary of State) would put forth a bill to ensure that there’s no voter fraud. Their bill would require people to show a ID to vote and would eliminate this provision where someone could “vouch” for your residency. Voters who failed to bring ID would be given a provisional ballot.
“Letting people vote without a photo ID creates the ideal conditions for fraud. It is in fact very easy to impersonate someone if you don’t have to prove who you are,” said Benson.
This sounds like a no-brainer, right? In fact, next door in Wisconsin this headline hit the news this Monday: “Wis. task force has charged 20 vote fraud cases.”
What were the charges? Well, six persons have been charged with voter registration misconduct, 11 have been charged with being a felon but still voting, two have been charged with double voting and one person obtained an absentee ballot in his dead wife’s name so she could vote for Barack Obama from the grave. (Wow. Gives a whole new meaning to G.K. Chesterton’s famous line: “Tradition is the democracy of the dead. It means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes: our ancestors.”
So who would oppose this bill? Answer: The Minnesota Catholic Conference.
The staffers at the MCC claim that this bill would disenfranchise college students, minorities and the elderly. “The reality is that a lot of people don’t have photo identification,” said Katie Conlin, interim social concerns director for MCC.
But the bill includes a provision making state-issued IDs free to those persons who cannot afford them. Not good enough, Conlin says.
“That doesn’t address the difficulty in getting that ID for some folks. You would still have to have some sort of supporting documentation in order to get the ID,” Conlin explained. “Let’s say you’re a woman who got married and had a name change. Then you would have to have your birth certificate, your marriage license and proof of your current residence. Then you’d have to get to wherever it is that the ID is going to be issued. It would affect anyone with limited access to transportation.”
I am trying my best to be charitable, but these excuses just don’t cut it.
She claims it would disenfranchise minorities presumably because they make up a larger percentage of the poor. (Then why not just say the poor?) But even if the poor cannot afford cars, isn’t public transportation available that could take them to the DMV or the Secretary of State’s office? Do the poor have no need for a state ID except to vote? Would they not want an ID if it were free?
Frankly her example of the newly married woman is laughable. Most women get a new driver’s license when they come home from a honeymoon. It’s not like they would forget about this until Election Day. “Oh right, my last name isn’t Smith anymore! I’ve been driving around the state with my old name!”
And how exactly does this disenfranchise college students, the vast majority have state-issued IDs already? They can vote absentee if they want to claim their parent’s address or they can vote with their campus address. This bill would simply prevent them from casting multiple ballots, like the students at Marquette claimed to have done in 2000 (a “Catholic” university in Milwaukee, Wis. no less). And since Minnesota’s election laws are just as lenient as Wisconsin’s, are you telling me that this kind of voter fraud isn’t happening at the University of Minnesota?
I live in Michigan and we are required to show our ID in order to vote. This hasn’t prevented minorities, seniors or college students from voting.
Conlin called the voter ID proposal a waste of money on an unnecessary bill. “All the known prosecutions have been for convicted felons voting, and a voter ID would not indicate whether a person is a felon,” said Conlin.
Well, I guess she would wait until what happened in Wisconsin came to Minnesota before she would act. But isn’t it good to take steps to stop voter fraud before they happen?