Human rights leader blasts ballot measures

Published 9:43 am Friday, September 28, 2012

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Thursday spoke out in opposition to the two constitutional amendments facing Minnesota voters this November.

Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said the approval of what has become known as the voter ID amendment would bring many unintended consequences, ultimately eliminate absentee voting, and unfairly target senior citizens, minorities, people with disabilities, students and soldiers serving overseas.

The amendment would require people to present state-issued photo identification — specifically a driver’s license or identification card — to vote. A passport, military ID or student ID would not work.

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Lindsey said while supporters of the amendment argue that the photo ID requirement is needed to curb voter fraud, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.

“I think this is a cart-before-the-horse issue,” he said during a forum in Albert Lea. “If we really think it’s a problem, let’s talk about all these things. We can come up with solutions.”

He said of the 2.9 million people who voted in 2008 in Minnesota, there were 26 people charged with voter fraud. All of those people were felons who had not completed all of their requirements to restore their voting rights. He said requiring a photo ID would not have helped this, he noted.

Lindsey said the amendment would also increase costs for local governments, through changes in voting requirements under the law, updating equipment and hiring additional workers to check IDs.

People without the valid IDs would be eligible for a free one but would have to bring substantial documentation in order to obtain one.


Marriage amendment

Lindsey described the proposed marriage amendment, which would limit the status of marriage to opposite sex couple, as a “slippery slope.”

He said the amendment takes away a person’s ability to make choices.

In a statement issued by the department, it states a “yes vote will permanently and unnecessarily tamper with Minnesota’s Constitution.

“This is an important conversation — for the sake of freedom and equal rights, for the welfare of our children and our society, and for Minnesota’s economy.”

The forum was attended by about 15 people.