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My Point of View: Congress should pass a practical system of voter ID

My Point of View by Joseph E. Brown Sr.

There is no time or place for discrimination of individuals who are not exactly like me. I am personally amazed at the continued hate and negative words and actions that are being hurled at individuals that are of a different ethnicity, age or gender.

Joseph E. Brown Sr.

What has happened to these United States of America? Why are we so divided? Why are we so bitter towards one another due to their political or religious views?

I was born in 1951 and raised in Clinton, Iowa, located in eastern Iowa next to the Mississippi river. Clinton is the home of the American Protective Association (1887-1911) an anti-Catholic organization like the Ku Klux Klan led by Henry Francis Bowers. As an Irish Catholic being raised in a town with five Catholic parishes, I personally did not feel discriminated against. However, I later learned that around 1910 there were signs posted in New York and Boston that read “No Irish Need Apply.”

We are now experiencing an anti-Asian movement, that follows an anti-immigrant movement, that follows an anti-Black movement, etc. Unless someone can trace their roots to a native American tribe, they have no right to discriminate against immigrants that come to our country to seek a better lifestyle for their family.

I recall writing a letter to President George W. Bush, praising him for his comprehensive proposal to modify our archaic immigration system.  These are the major components of his plan proposed in 2007:

• The United States must secure its borders.

• We must hold employers accountable for the workers they hire.

• To secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program.

• We must bring undocumented workers already in the country out of the shadows.

• We must promote assimilation into our society by teaching new immigrants English and American values.

This proposal did not become law or policy because members of Congress could not agree on a comprehensive plan since they did not support one or two of the five major components.

I have heard that the opposite of Congress is progress. Both political parties are at fault for not supporting a comprehensive immigration plan. The Democrats do not support plans for securing our borders, while the Republicans do not support holding employers accountable for the workers they hire.

It is time we hold both political parties accountable. The baby boom generation is retiring. Minnesota needs to replace 239,000 skilled workers in the next 24 months. Our nation needs individuals that are willing to work for a living, not just live off the generosity of taxpayers. We need more taxpayers and less tax users.

We can fix the broken immigration system if we really want to. It appears both political parties are using our broken immigration system as a tool for getting elected or re-elected to office. This is disgraceful.

The verbal attack on our election system also needs to stop. As a lifelong member of the Democratic party, I favor some practical system of voter ID. Having lived in four different states, I am used to showing identification before I cast a vote. This is not a big deal. I show my Sam’s Club ID when I shop at Sam’s Club. I show my Kwik Trip card when I purchase gas and newspapers at Kwik Trip. I show my Barnes and Noble card when I purchase books and journals at Barnes and Noble. I even must show my driver’s license when I purchase alcohol in Mankato.

Providing proof of residency before I cast a vote in Minnesota should be required. At a minimum, this would soften the allegation that we have a corrupt election system. I have voted in every election since 1972. This includes national, state, city, county, school board and bond and operating levies. It is embarrassing that only 62% of eligible voters voted in the 2020 national election. I am proud of the fact that Minnesota had a 79.96% voter turnout in 2020 — No. 1 in America in voter turnout. I am sad that one out of five eligible voters in Minnesota chose not to participate in the November 2020 elections.

My hope is that Minnesota will pass a practical system of voter ID to eliminate the criticism of our election system.  My hope is that Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration system that provides a safe and nurturing place for all citizens.

Joseph E. Brown Sr. is a member of the DFL Party. He is a former Iowa state senator and currently serves as the superintendent of Fairmont Area Schools.