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Minnesota Stands Up for Voters

Carolyn Jackson,
ACLU of Minnesota
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June 2, 2011

Last week we told you about the rash of photo-ID-to-vote bills popping up around the country, which will do nothing but prevent countless Americans from voting.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued recently in the Wall Street Journal that “You can’t cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without [a photo ID]. That’s why it’s not unreasonable to require one in order to protect our most important privilege of citizenship.”

Well, Mr. Kobach, your neighbor to the north has a different take on this so-called “privilege of citizenship.” Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, in a statement encouraging Gov. Mark Dayton to veto Minnesota’s voter ID legislation, said:

At a first glance, the requirement asking eligible voters to show a government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote seems reasonable. After all, most Minnesotans have a photo ID. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that in our Constitution voting is a right not a privilege. Many Minnesotans may be surprised to learn that over 10% of seniors do not have a government-issued photo ID and many more have one, but with the wrong address. This is especially true of those who no longer drive.

Losing the right to vote for lack of an official government-issued identification card turns voting from a right into a privilege.

What about Kobach’s assertion that voter ID is needed to prevent fraud?

As Minnesota’s Secretary of State, I take accusations of election fraud very seriously. While there have been a lot of accusations of fraud by partisan groups, the evidence is clear that after two high profile recounts where lawyers and investigators from both sides spent millions of dollars in attempts to find voter fraud, they concluded that there was “not a whiff of fraud” in Minnesota’s election system.

Gov. Dayton agreed. On May 26, he vetoed the voter ID legislation, saying:

The right to vote is embedded in both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. In accordance with my oath to uphold both of these foundational documents, it is my duty as Governor to ensure every eligible Minnesota voter is able to exercise this fundamental right and does not face barriers to doing so.

Need we say more?

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