Mary Kiffmeyer introduces voter ID constitutional amendment

Categories: Politics

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Mary Kiffmeyer wants to see some ID. Now.
Republicans in the Legislature keep promoting solutions that are in search of problems. Today's example: Minnesotans in 2012 are very likely going to to be asked to amend the state constitution so that it requires voters to show proof of identification before they can cast a ballot.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer introduced the measure yesterday, starting an end run around Gov. Mark Dayton's promised veto of similar legislation percolating in the Legislature.

Here's what it says:

"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?"

Sounds simple enough. But what are we really doing here?

Research from NYU's Brennan Center shows that such a change would likely disenfranchise a big chunk of voters: About 12 percent of eligible voters nationwide don't have official ID, and most of them are seniors, people of color, the disabled, low-income voters, and students. And those folks have a hard time getting official ID because "the underlying documentation (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult to come by."

And Hamline professor Dave Schultz has written, the voter ID laws are nothing less than attempts to keep certain types of voters away from the polls.

The battle over voter photo identification is a battle for democracy against a second great wave of voter disenfranchisement. Like the first wave at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries which augmented the fear of voter fraud as a way to disenfranchise African-Americans, urban poor and ethnic populations, and ex-felons.

Why do we need voter ID? Supposedly to protect us from voter fraud. But Jay Wiener, who authored an entire book debunking of the myth that Al Franken stole Norm Coleman's Senate seat, says fears about voter fraud are vastly overblown by right wing groups.

Groups, we might add, that obviously have a vested interest in the outcome.

More solutions in search of problems:

Here are the constitutional amendment's co-authors in the House:

Kiffmeyer ; Benson, M. ; Zellers ; Garofalo ; Dean ; Daudt ; Erickson ; Myhra ; Shimanski ; Howes ; Drazkowski ; Gruenhagen ; Swedzinski ; Lohmer ; Anderson, B. ; Torkelson ; Kiel ; Mazorol ; Gottwalt ; Downey ; Vogel ; Kieffer ; Fabian ; Crawford ; Woodard ; Wardlow ; LeMieur ; Cornish ; Leidiger ; Quam ; Doepke ; Barrett ; Anderson, P. ; Davids

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Most people who have genealogical research have experienced lost public records, particularly birth records. Many rural (and poor) counties did not store these documents well or use durable paper/inks. In other cases, other issues over time destroyed records: broken pipes, fires, mold, insect damage, or entire boxes of records thrown out by low-level employees. Depression-era records are especially prone to loss. Things happen to pieces of paper over 80 years, especially when they are stored in damp basements or poorly-maintained buildings.

Other redundant "secondary" records (baptismal certificates, family Bibles, etc.) have even a worse record of loss over time.

It is ridiculous to pretend that everyone has a birth certificate stored somewhere that they can pull out to prove their identity.

Aside from that, the real issue here is not proof of *identity*, but rather proof of residence. A lot of people do not have their current address on their ID. Poor people, in particular, move frequently and do not have time, transportation, or the money to keep these documents updated. And if you look into Republican concerns, identity is a smokescreen for the real issue of proof of address - ostensibly to prevent voting in multiple precincts.


"and the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible voters?"

Um... doesn't this actually mean that the state would have to stop charging for driver's licenses and state ID cards? A strict reading of this sentence would lead to that conclusion: Are you eligible to vote? Here's a free ID!

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