Editorial: Vote no on the voter ID measure

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The goal of election officials in Minnesota or anywhere typically is getting a good turnout. The more people who vote, the more of a true mandate the elected officials can claim they have.

The voter ID amendment is not the answer to better elections. It merely is a means to limit who gets to vote in elections and creates red-tape headaches for anyone who moves or lacks ID. Many retirees or people living in public housing lack photo IDs. It may seem impossible to get by in modern life without one, but many more people than you know do not have one. The Star Tribune placed the number of Minnesota registered voters without a driver’s license or other ID at 215,000.

Voter fraud is rare, and when it does happen, it typically involves felons on probation who are not allowed to vote. A photo ID would not address the problem because driver’s licenses do not say who is a felon.

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The vote on Nov. 6 could be considered a true test for fiscal conservatives. The voter ID amendment was placed on the ballot by state-level Republicans; however, the measure, if passed, would prove to be a costly expense to fix a minor problem. Anyone who cares about their tax dollars being spent wisely has to shake their head. The measure might as well ask, “Do you want your local taxes to go up?”

As a result, some right-leaning voters might have to decide that day whether they are Republican or whether they are conservative.

Furthermore, passing the measure likely will create more taxpayer expense, as the state must pay lawyers to defend the amendment in the courts. The state measure, it will be argued, conflicts with federal laws. Every other state with these measures faces lawsuits from people who have every right to vote but are facing troubles acquiring a photo identification or even people who have photo IDs but were denied because of some technicality. Some groups see photo ID laws as similar to poll taxes — yet another way of keeping the poor from voting. It’s going to create a big mess.

We’d rather see tax dollars go toward creating jobs for the common man, rather than jobs for lawyers.

Clearly, we recommend voting no on the voter ID amendment on Nov. 6.

And regardless of all the reasons we mention to vote no, there is one greater than them all: This state ought not legislate by constitutional amendments time and again. The state constitution provides a method for making laws. The House and Senate pass bills and a governor signs them. If a measure fail along the way, it fails for that legislative session.

But when legislators send amendments to the voters, they are circumventing their elected duty to lead. Voters elect them to make the decision, not to punt the job back to voters.

If anything, Minnesota needs a constitutional amendment that makes amending the constitution harder than it presently is.