Viewpoint: If it isn’t broke, why are lawmakers after a fix?A Viewpoint writer comments regarding a recent presentation on photo identification that "Every political party will bend the truth" ("Consider reasons to adopt voter ID standard," Feb. 8).
A Viewpoint writer comments regarding a recent presentation on photo identification that "Every political party will bend the truth" ("Consider reasons to adopt voter ID standard," Feb. 8). However, this forum was put on by River Valley Action, a local nonpartisan group. The League of Women Voters, which presented the voter ID portion, is a respected nonpartisan organization.
She says: "A voter cannot be a convicted felon whose rights have not yet been restored. ... The voter ID system being proposed simply verifies that a voter meets the constitutional qualifications for voting." The meeting leaders clearly stated that felon voting has been the only kind of fraud uncovered by investigations, was responsible for the only convictions, and that no ID card indicates a person's criminal status.
She lists some "interesting facts" that are verifiable on the Internet. So I did indeed verify they were available from the website "We Want Voter ID" - not exactly an unbiased source.
The website www.ceimn.org has a 44-page report compiled by nonpartisan organizations after our 2008 election (2,921,498 voted). The authors contacted the county attorneys, as they are charged with investigating/prosecuting suspected voter fraud. Those attorneys conclusively stated there was no evidence of "voter impersonation" (seven investigations statewide, no convictions), which is the only kind of fraud a photo ID would prevent. Nor did they report any other fraud except for felon voting (1,179 investigations, 38 convictions). They recommended much better education of felons regarding their civil rights.
The report states: "[O]ur analysis is that the concern that there is a need to have a government-issued photo identification requirement is baseless hokum and instituting such a requirement would be a waste of tax-payer dollars."
We can argue ad nauseum about whether we "suspect" voter fraud (the writer thinks people are "avidly" cheating), or whether paying for supporting documents is a "poll tax" (a certified birth certificate costs $26). But more to the point, we ought to be asking why Republicans want to institute photo ID, and Democrats do not. Do Republicans honestly think that Democrats are hell-bent on fraud? Is it that Democrats really aren't concerned about fair elections? Or do Republicans realize it's to their advantage to make things more difficult for certain groups to vote, as those people tend to vote Democratic? Estimates are that this would cost the state over $20 million (voter education, free ID cards, a provisional ballot system). So why is passing this law now an emergency, when our state is broke?
This doesn't belong in our Constitution, but is another effort on the part of the Legislature to bypass our governor's veto. That's not the way the state ought to be run. With our changing technology, down the road there will be a whole new way to identify and track voters. A law can be changed - a Constitutional amendment, not so easy. This is part of a national concerted effort on the part of Republicans, and again, we need to ask ourselves why.
Estimates are that at least 11 percent of eligible Minnesota voters do not possess a valid photo ID. For most of us, that's hard to imagine. Sometimes it seems there's a dangerous underlying assumption that those who don't even have a photo ID are likely not intelligent enough or informed enough to vote, anyway.
Minnesota has always gotten high marks for its clean elections. I saw no reason to vote former Secretary of State Kiffmeyer out just because of her party affiliation, since her office was doing such a great job. Then when elected to the Legislature, she tried to persuade us that our elections are riddled with fraud. But our voting process now has more oversight and safeguards than it did when she was in office. She can't have it both ways.
Surveys have shown public support for voter ID. However, the pollsters don't tell us that 1) Minnesota has uncovered no voter fraud except for felon voting, 2) voter ID cards would not prevent felons from voting, and 3) this would cost the state $20 million at a time when we have no money. "If it ain't broke, fix it" seems to be the Legislature's motto.
Turnbull is a Woodbury resident