Resident's Viewpoint: Consider reasons to adopt voter ID standardOne of the new “hot button” issues rapidly spreading across the country and definitely across Minnesota is the “photo voter ID” card.
By: Sandy Halverson, Woodbury Bulletin
One of the new “hot button” issues rapidly spreading across the country and definitely across Minnesota is the “photo voter ID” card. I went to an informational meeting last week that included a presentation from the League of Women voters where I expected to hear factual information.
What I got was a gigantic tug on my heartstrings, a lot of effort to play to my emotions instead of giving factual, verifiable data to support their assertion that voter ID would disenfranchise groups of people, and an admonishment to the audience that we were not to become emotional.
I felt like I was back in the early years of elementary school. You know, the time in our lives where we definitely did not argue with our teachers because they knew so much more than we did and therefore we just trusted everything they said as factually true. One small problem is we are no longer young children.
We are adults and many of us have learned one very hard lesson. Every political party will bend the truth when it is expedient. We can no longer rely on political parties for all of our information and it is for our own welfare that we seek out information from both sides of an issue before we make any decisions of our own.
Here, then, are some interesting verifiable facts:
1. Voting in Minnesota is a “qualified right.” That means a voter must be a resident of the state, a citizen, at least 18 years of age and must live in the precinct he votes in. A voter cannot be a convicted felon whose rights have not yet been restored and cannot be under a guardianship in which the right to vote has been revoked by the court. In addition, each eligible voter is entitled to only one ballot in an election.
2. The voter ID system being proposed simply verifies that a voter meets the constitutional qualifications for voting.
3. Voter ID provides for Election Day registration.
4. There is no charge to obtain a voter ID card.
5. Voter ID does have provisions for absentee ballots.
6. After the 2008 election, over 5,000 Election Day registrants were found to have provided names and/or addresses that resulted in an undeliverable postal verification card that could not be explained by legitimate reasons, such as the voter had just moved. Those ballots were counted.
7. The penalty for voter fraud is up to a $10,000 fine and 5 years in prison. However, in Ramsey County, where over 20 people have been convicted of voter fraud, they received a penalty of $50 plus court costs.
8. College students can choose to maintain their residence in their hometown and vote from their parents’ address with an absentee ballot. There are several other options open to them as well, and they can do them right on Election Day.
9. There are allowances for those people living in temporary shelters and for vulnerable seniors.
That is just a sample of facts that are obtainable and verifiable on the Internet. I have never heard anyone complain that it is unfair to have to show a photo ID to get a check cashed, for withdrawing money from the bank, to open a bank account, or to verify a credit card with a vendor. Documents such as birth certificates can be required to register for school or to gain employment. I find it hard to believe that anyone who desires to vote would let a photo ID card become an obstacle to voting.
This turns out to not be a partisan issue for me. As a voter, I see it as a way to ensure that my legally cast ballot counts and is not negated by a ballot cast by someone who is not legally registered to vote. The law applies to all of us. As far as I can tell, the only people the voter ID would disenfranchise are those people who avidly cheat at the ballot box. Who wouldn’t want to deter those people?
Halverson is a Woodbury resident