New York Times on MN voter ID amendment: Solution to a "virtually non-existent problem"

Categories: Voter ID
andrew rosenthal crop.jpg
Rosenthal: "I have yet to see any evidence of anyone pretending to be an eligible voter."
In a column published last night, New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal blasts Minnesota Republicans for pushing a voter ID amendment through the legislature.

"I never cease to be amazed -- in a really bad way -- at the lengths to which Republican lawmakers will go to cut down the number of people who get to vote (preferably, of course, people who might vote Democratic)," Rosenthal writes in "Voter Suppression, Again, in Minnesota This Time."

Rosenthal, editor of the Times' editorial page for more than five years and a contributor to the paper since 1988, characterizes Minnesota's ID amendment as a solution to a "virtually non-existent problem" -- a characterization supported by the fact that nobody has yet been able to take the ACLU of Minnesota up on its $1,000 offer to anyone who could provide documented proof of a single voter impersonation case in the state.

In particular, Rosenthal argues the ID amendment would reduce turnout among left-leaning college students who would no longer be able to use college IDs to verify their identities.

He writes:
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The real aim of the voter ID requirements is to cut down on turnout, and to do it in a way that affects Democrats more than Republicans. Some voter-ID advocates deny this, and others try to hide it. Some are totally open about it. Florida's State Senate pro-tem, Michael Bennett, said recently that he wants "'em to fight" for the right to vote. You know, like they do in African countries.

But let's assume for a moment that Minnesota Republicans really think there is a problem with voter fraud, and that the number of people who pretend to be eligible to vote is so high that it's worth amending the state constitution to deal with it. Why do they want to put the issue on the ballot before all those fake Minnesota voters?
Rosenthal fails to acknowledge, however, that in today's nearly-evenly-split Land of 10,000 Lakes, a few hundred votes here and there is all that differentiates our politics from the bitterness we've seen develop in Wisconsin under the Walker Administration coupled with a Republican-controlled legislature. So while Rosenthal might regard the voter ID amendment as a problem-less solution, the MNGOP presumably sees it differently -- as a popular and unobtrusive reform of the state's voting system that could help them maintain a strong voice in Minnesota politics in 2014 and beyond.

Previous coverage:
-- Voter ID amendment approved by legislature, on ballot this November
-- ACLU denies Minnesota Majority's claim to $1,000 voter impersonation bounty
-- House approves voter ID bill
-- Voter ID advances to House floor
-- Minnesota Majority uncovers evidence of voter impersonation, claims ACLU's $1,000 bounty
-- Minnesota ACLU places $1,000 bounty on voter-impersonatin' "rascals"
-- Minnesota Majority scrubs race-baiting imagery from website
-- Minnesota Majority, pro-voter ID group, blasted for using race-baiting imagery
-- Keith Ellison on voter ID approval: "Today is a sad day for democracy"

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"I never cease to be amazed -- in a really bad way -- at the lengths to which Republican lawmakers will go to cut down the number of people who get to vote (preferably, of course, people who might vote Democratic)," Rosenthal writes in "Voter Suppression, Again, in Minnesota This Time."

I never cease to be amazed at all the things out there that we need to show our ID for to prove our identity or age -- and voting on elected officials to serve us for 4 years isn't one of them?In all sorts of contests, whether it's a baseball game or an election, don't we want to make sure that both sides are playing by the rules, win or lose?  I think it is a simple and effective way to snuff out all the remaining doubt surrounding the controversy.  Additionally, can't this situation go both ways?  Aren't both sides playing by the same rules?  Why can't we just do it correctly and see where the chips fall?  The only excuse for arguing against it is by hiding under the baloney that it suppresses voting.  If there was not so much uncertainty where voter registrations were coming from (due to voter fraud cases) we would not be in this situation in the first place.  Get an ID, and then you can vote!  If that is voter suppression, then every other situation requiring ID is suppression and an infringement on rights as well.

"In particular, Rosenthal argues the ID amendment would reduce turnout among left-leaning college students who would no longer be able to use college IDs to verify their identities."

Who has made it through college admissions and cannot verify their identity for crying out loud? one.  Unless you are living a fake identity, I suppose.I understand that this has become a national issue, but his article was kind of an ironic ad-hominem attack by someone who has no business commenting on state policy in a state he doesn't live in.  Rosenthal: you don't live here, no one's forcing you to live here.  You are not effected by this.  So why write the cowardly editorial under the NYT logo and hide in the safe haven of "Voter Suppression", when we all know it's simply being a mouthpiece for Dems?  Everyone knows that partisanship exists, and Rosenthal is just as guilty for using the issue to make political gain.Where was this guy when ID's were required to get on airplanes?...I suppose that's just a way to cut down people who get on to airplanes (and preferably, of course, people who are democrats)  Where was this guy when ID's were required to set up utilities, use a debit card, get married, buy cigs, or get a job?  I suppose that was just a way to cut down on the number of democrats who do the above?...Do we see the fallacy here?  Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm a bit angry when I get hassled for my ID all the time too, but this of all places seems like a silly place to skimp when we're talking about so few votes deciding elections. Another point being, that since this is a constitutional amendment, it still has to go to a vote (like it should with states) and pass.  All voters (even those without ID's) will get to cast their vote on if they like it or not.  Again, let the chips fall where they may.  Enough of this unknown and dilly dallying around every election cycle about the legitimacy of vote counts.So returning his comments, "I never cease to be amazed -- in a really bad way -- at the lengths to which liberal editorialists will go to make sure voters will not be 'suppressed' (preferably, of course, people who might vote Democratic".  Quite ironic and hypocritical -- and really no better than the lawmakers he criticizes (from thousands of miles away with a pen in one of the largest newspapers in the world).

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

 "a characterization supported by the fact that nobody has yet been able to take the ACLU of Minnesota up on its $1,000 offer to anyone who could provide documented proof of a single voter impersonation case in the state."


Hey Aaron you did an article on it 3 days ago.

Do you not remember the article you wrote on Apr. 2 2012?Minnesota Majority proved it!You posted the information on the 3 felonies the woman was charged with for that instance of voter fraud.The ACLU just reneged on the deal and came out with some lame excuse and explanation like "the new law still wont prevent voter fraud" (even though none exists).Now come on, do you really think CP readers are that burnt?3 days ago and they already forgot?  Aaron, give the readers here a little more credit...


Where's Kirk with the conspiracy theory stuff, and his hating on liberals??

I'mma go get popcorn.


Also, I just have to point out the irony here - your username is "no to big gov," yet this amendment is in huge support of big gov and more regulation. Nice.


 Hereis where your logic is flawed:

Riding on a plane is not a right.

Buying cigarettes is not a right.

Going to college is not a right.

Getting married is not a right.

Getting a job is not a right.

Voting IS a right. Everyone over the age of 18 has the RIGHT to vote. Theproblem isn't as simple as, "We have to do it for everything else, why notfor voting?" I'll tell you why not: voting is a constitutional rightgranted to every individual over 18. You are proposing we just hop on thebandwagon and CHANGE the constitution to reflect the agenda of thesepolicymakers without even thinking about it? There are sufficient measuresalready in place to prevent voter fraud. If you have ever voted, you would knowthis. 

Another point is, what made this such a big issue? I'll tell you exactly whatmade it an issue. Republicans refused to believe they could possibly lose anelection, so they made up this "there must have been democrats votingillegally all over the state" conspiracy. That democrats can't possibly bewinning elections without somehow cheating. This origin of issue has beenadmitted and what the ACLU refuted with its $1,000 bounty. THERE ISN'T MASSDECEPTION GOING ON HERE, PEOPLE. At least not from the voters themselves,that's for sure. You mentioned that they want to "snuff out all theremaining doubt..." There was no doubt in the first place! To think thatanyone would intentionally risk felony charges to cast one vote illegally is paranoia at itsmost extreme. Currentvoter ID proposals are nothing but a solution in search of a problem.


Kirk -- check out my follow-up post, "ACLU denies Minnesota Majority's claim to $1,000 voter impersonation bounty." Even Minnesota Majority agrees that voter ID wouldn't prevent that sort of impersonation case from happening, as it pertained to improper absentee voting, not a voter at the poll pretending to be someone else.


 Drewl we can split hairs if you would like...

"As for your comment on the 2nd amendment, buying a gun and bearing a gun are two different things. You do not need a photo ID to possess a gun, unless you are carrying it in public (which was a law that was heavily debated). It is not your right to buy a gun. It is your right to possess one. Moot point, sir."

We can say the same thing for registering to vote as we can say with purchasing a firearm.  So you would be okay with requiring an ID to register to vote but not needing one to actually vote????


My second amendment right requires showing an IDto fulfill requirements to exercise my right.  So to say that it iswrongful for requiring an ID to exercise a right is nonsense unless youdisagree with that as well?...

"To think that anyone wouldintentionally risk felony charges to cast one vote illegally is paranoia at its most extreme"

I would agree.  No one person would usually in theirright mind risk that.  Especially for only one vote.  But if it's soeasy to do, and you have a lot on the line (or are a felon yourself....)....

I really don't think the goal is to catch people making one vote at the pollingplace.

I think the goal here is to corral, discourage, and stop the thousands of falseregistrations which are honored at the polling place by NOT requiring a matching ID when voting.  Byrequiring the photo ID, Cookie Monster, dead people, convicted felons, etcwould not be able to easily poll as it would far tougher to produce ID.

Believe me,I don't think this will cut down the numbers of votes considerably for eitherside, but it will [at least] discourage registration fraud (or at least makethem find another way to do it).  Heck maybe this will push people tostart making more false ID's.  Granted, that is a lot tougherthan scribbling someone's name down and then bussing them to apolling location.

Somaybe we need to instead crack down further on the root of the problem, which Ithink is voter registration fraud.  I mean is that what this boils downto?  We can agree on the examples of registration fraud, correct?

You mentioned that "There are sufficient measures already in place to prevent voter fraud. If you have ever voted, youwould know this."

I think there are enough cases out there to exemplify thedesire for voter registration fraud.  Whether ACORN (one example with manycases) was politically motivated or their employees were just trying to dotheir jobs (by getting tons of registrations) may be uncertain....

In all seriousness, I would agree with you that we shouldn't just doit because everything else requires it.  Slippery slopes are just that,slippery.  I also am not a fan of adding the regulation where it isn'tneeded.  Less intrusion is better.  I'd rather see it not there. I'd rather just show up and vote.  My point was that it seemed sillyand inconsistent that we had requirements for all those other things, and notfor voting.  In other words the precedent and the fact that we even needto think of considering this is silly.

I think this comes down to one fundamental question:

Do we want people who are not supposed to vote, to vote?

I think we agree there, right?  People that are free to exercise theirsuffrage should be able to do so no matter how they want to vote. Rosenthal (as well as lawmakers) has needlessly fueled a partisan fireunder the cover of voter suppression when we really know his angle.

Just as the case with the Brady Bill requiring ID to exercise a right, it isunfortunate that those of us who vote (and register by the book) may need beinconvenienced by those that do not.  If there was no fear of anyonebreaking the rules, everything would be hunky dory right.  It's just notpractical.  So what do we do?

Maybe it's true, that the ends do not justify the means.  We still need to provethat people are 18, correct?  How is this supposed to be performed? In the case of cigarettes, industry checks their ID's.

Lastly, love the ad hominem attacks -- you big showoff, you.

effeminate dad
effeminate dad

Your logic is flawed in that only qualifying citizens have the right to vote, that is why one must register to vote. In order to prove citizenry, they must show ID.

And to NY Times guy: we all know the NY system is bursting with integrity, thanks for the advice, buddy. Everyone needs to quit being dumb

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

I didn't realize the $1000 bounty was for a solution to the problem.  The $1000 was for proof there is a problem, and to show a instance of voter fraud within the last 10 years. Sounds like a reneg to me.

Here is the original request by the ACLU -"Samuelson said the ACLU prize goes to anyone who produces proof of a legal charge, indictment or conviction for the crime of voter impersonation -- voting in the name of another person -- in Minnesota within the last 10 years. Evidence is to be presented at the ACLU offices, 2300 Myrtle Avenue, Suite 180, St. Paul, MN,., 55114, by 5 p.m. on March 30, 2012. Those seeking further information are encouraged to call Carolyn Jackson, 651-645-4097, ext. 125. Results are to be announced on April 2."  (source Star and Tribune)

Now even the ACLU appears to be admitting there is a problem.  The ACLU says, the "DFL-sponsored electronic poll books measure" would be a better fix to the acknowledged voter fraud problem.

Come on Aaron, don't let them brainwash you like that!  You're better than that.  They changed the rules and the media lapped it up.

But at least we are all clear; there is a problem... I wonder who that woman cast the fraudulent vote for?


That is the case, actually.  You have to provide some form of ID to register to vote.  You have to have an electrical bill with your name and address, or a photo id, or a passport.

The distinction would be requiring an ID each time you touched your firearm, and each time you moved, you would have to register that firearm, or you wouldn't be allowed to have it.I suggest you look up gun laws in MN.  You'll find that the only gun that is really heavily regulated are handguns, and assault rifles.Also, the constitution allows for you to have a firearm in order to form a, let me know where you are registered for that one...


Ad hominem attacks? I don't recall personally attacking you in any way to further my argument or to refute yours. Please elaborate as I did not mean to offend you, and I don't think you know what that term means. But nice try!

First, I don't think a massive demonstration of voter fraud would be "easy to do." Where do you get that idea? And if that is the issue, requiring individual ID's at the voting booth still wouldn't solve the nonexistent "problem."

We are not in agreement on voter fraud being a problem. That is my point. Please explain to me, with examples, how voter fraud has played a role in any election. And ACORN? Seriously? You're going to try and bring up ACORN? Wow... get with the times, man. ACORN did nothing illegal and it was shown that the only "voter registration fraud" that happened was a few canvassers who submitted duplicate registration forms to pad their hours and make it seem like they were working more. ACORN sends all of the registration forms in, even the fraudulent ones from rogue canvassers, to be reviewed. It was determined that there was not one single fraudulent vote cast as a result of the delinquent ACORN employees. 

Let us also not forget that current laws do require you to produce an ID in order to register to vote. If you cannot produce an ID, there are other means of proving your age and citizenship. The Voter ID bill removes these processes and requires you to produce a physical ID on the day of the election.

It is not silly and inconsistent to require photo IDs for things like cigarettes, boarding a plane or driving a car. These are privileges that our country/state provides, and usually involve some sort of risk. They are not rights granted by the constitution. They are not rights that were fought for tirelessly for hundreds of years. None of them involve an situation where if you did not have your ID you risk having personal rights violated.

As for your comment on the 2nd amendment, buying a gun and bearing a gun are two different things. You do not need a photo ID to possess a gun, unless you are carrying it in public (which was a law that was heavily debated). It is not your right to buy a gun. It is your right to possess one. Moot point, sir.

Republicans have and have had an agenda to disenfranchise voters for decades. This isn't me expressing an opinion, it is a recorded, observable fact. They know that the less people vote, the better chance they have of winning an election. If you really think it is right to not allow millions of people the opportunity to vote, then please, by all means, vote yes on this bill in November. This is voter suppression, and to call it anything else is just ignorant.

Whoa, Nellie!
Whoa, Nellie!

 Solution in search of a problem. Here's a logic sequence for you: If there is no rampant voter fraud, therefore rendering any change ineffective, then why do only Republicans favor this bill? I'll give you five minutes to mull over that one.


You're right in that only qualifying citizens have the right to vote (that was not an err in my logic, however, that was an incidental omission of a requirement). But you're not right that proving citizenship should mean producing a photo ID. You can prove your citizenship just fine with the current registration process. What exactly needs changing about the current process? Are there thousands, nay, hundreds or even tens of non-citizens trying to vote in this state? Prove it.

Quit trying to make this a simple issue. It is not a simple issue, we're talking about making a constitutional amendment concerning a fundamental right. Did you ever stop to think about what problems could EASILY arise from this? What happens when your ID expires and election day is next Tuesday? We all know how long it takes to get a new state ID. You would not be voting. Here's another thought, why should I be required to go out of my way to make sure I have a current ID in order to vote? What if I'm a busy businessman who doesn't have time to make sure that come election day, my ID is current? Here's one, what if I am an elderly person living independently? Is it now my job to ensure i get to the license bureau to get a current photo ID? What if I'm handicapped? This is what we mean when we talk about disenfranchising voters. Placing more hurdles in the way of something that is every citizen's RIGHT to do is not right.

Let us also not forget what happened next door in WI. They tried to enact a voter ID law and failed. Miserably. Within the first election, three American citizens (one a veteran, for Christ's sake) were turned away from the polling place and not allowed to vote. Fundamental rights were stripped away from real American citizens. The law was repealed immediately.

Case study #2: Tennessee enacted a similar bill and now boasts a ranking of 49th in overall voter participation by state (in case you don't know, that's second to last).  

Before dismissing this as a simple issue, ask yourself which is more likely: that the photo ID law will prevent non-citizens from voting? Or the voter ID law will disenfranchise the elderly? The answer is pretty clear to me. For even more clarity, consider the numbers: Voter fraud is estimated to account for appx. .0009% of a given election. Voter ID bills disenfranchise an estimated 10% of eligible voters.


Incorrect information. The ACLU included a requirement that the case presented must also be an example of how the Voter ID bill would prevent it from happening. The simple fact is that the case Minnesota Majority presented could not have been prevented by the proposed legislation (and before you tell me to reference your quote, it is not a direct quote from the ACLU. The original bounty stated: "$1,000 reward for any no good lyin' cheatin' vote stealin' rascal who would have been caught if the currently proposed Voter ID Amendment had already been enacted.")   

Oh, and the woman was a Christian Conservative, I think you can make your own inferences about who the ballot was cast for.

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