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Voter ID would harm Minn. record

“We hide behind the fact that we’re just bringing this to the people. We’re just going to give a voice to the people, he said. “Well, I think we can look back in history and see that we’re littered with choices by the people that were very hurtful. All we have to do is look back to the ’50s and ’60s and see where prejudice and discrimination were at its height.”

These are the words of Rep. Tim Kelly in speaking out last year on the Minnesota House floor against the use of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. These words apply no less to the current Republican voter ID constitutional amendment.

Minnesota proudly leads the nation in voter participation and has a history of bipartisan election law reform, which should not be abandoned. In 2008, there were 550,000 same-day registrations in Minnesota, about 1,600 alone in Red Wing. Why would we put up unwarranted barriers to voting only on the suspicion of fraud if it were not to suppress voting? Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s poll book proposal addresses concerns over voter fraud while at the same time eliminating the voter disenfranchisement problems of the voter ID amendment. This is a sound, responsible approach.

The voter ID amendment contains no enabling legislation. It would potentially eliminate same-day voting, vouching, mail-in voting used in some rural areas and potentially impair absentee balloting. An expensive provisional ballot system would be used instead for those not having state-approved IDs. This would be a unnecessary barrier to students, women, minorities and the elderly.

Our constitutionally protected right to vote must not be impaired. Contact your legislators and tell them to vote no on the voter ID amendment.

 

Kent D. Laugen

Red Wing