Vote ‘no’ for voter ID amendment

The biggest election of our lives will take place in two days. We’ll be able to take part in history, and exercise our right to vote. Then in four years, we’ll do it all again.

At least that’s the case for us in-state students. Out of state students: Good luck.  GEENA_REVISED

In two days, I’m voting ‘no’ on the Minnesota Voter Identification amendment, and you should too. On the ballot, the amendment will read “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”

If passed by those who vote ‘yes,’ the state’s constitution would be amended such that a valid, government-issued Minnesota ID must be presented to election officials to vote.

It seems like common sense at first glance, right? Think about it this way: All out-of-state students in Minnesota — unless they change residency and get an ID — wouldn’t be able to vote in Minnesota, making it that much more complicated for them to vote.

The government should not create obstacles for citizens to engage in voting. If anything, they should encourage us to vote and make the process easier.

Republicans instigated this effort because they want to eliminate voter fraud, yet voter fraud is nonexistent in the U.S. In Minnesota, there have been 10 total cases of reported fraud and no cases of voter impersonation reported since 2000. Out of the 3.1 million eligible voters in Minnesota, there’s a .000003 percent that voter fraud will happen. You’re more likely to die from falling out of bed than voter fraud happening in Minnesota. There is no need for an amendment aimed to mitigate voter fraud in Minnesota.

To me, the real reason Republicans created this restriction on voting rights is because of the demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young (college students), who are more likely to support President Obama, are represented in the millions of people without government IDs. Obama won two-thirds of the vote among 18- to 24-year-olds in 2008.  opinion

New Hampshire State House speaker William O’Brien spoke at a Tea Party meeting last year, and said students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience. “Voting as a liberal, that’s what kids do,” O’Brien said. He admittedly said that is why he supports measures to prohibit students from voting from their college addresses and to end same-day registration.

Hate to break it to you, O’Brien, but my vote on Nov. 6 is far from foolish. I’m voting ‘no’ on this issue based on logic and fair reasoning. The amendment would put a stop to Election Day registration and mail-in balloting. The Our Vote, Our Future website shows that more than 500,000 Minnesotans use same-day voter registration to cast their ballots in presidential elections, and 250,000 vote by absentee or mail-in ballot, many from nursing homes and military bases overseas. By voting ‘yes,’ many of the voters will be forced into a complex two-step system of provisional balloting, casting votes that may never be counted.

The voter identification amendment is not only unfair to a variety of groups, but it’s costly. Local elections officials and the Secretary of State’s office estimate that it would cost state and local governments $50 million or more to implement the voter restriction amendment. It would require designing a complicated new system, raising property taxes and imposing even more cuts to schools, police and other first responders.

Another reason to vote ‘no’ is the lack of safeguards for active-duty military and senior voters. The voter restriction is designed so that there are no alternatives for senior citizens in nursing homes or military members overseas.

I strongly oppose any amendment that discriminates against minority groups. As educated college students, it’s up to us to fight for our right to vote.

Geena Maharaj can be reached at

13 Replies to “Vote ‘no’ for voter ID amendment”

  1. How hard is it to get a government id? And for our out-state-folks, there is a thing called an absentee voting.

  2.   You are saying that “Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young (college students).”  won’t be able to vote, because a free state photo id will be required to vote?  If this is so what is the reasoning behind it? Frankly, your view is racist view and pointing to William O’Brien of New Hampshire, to represent the view of all voter id supporters.  As for voter fraud, I would just point to the last election in the senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. In the initial count Coleman led by 215 votes, the results changed to Franken 1,212,629, Coleman 1,212,317. The results changed by 527 votes at a minimum. If the government attained the same margin of error as modern business, Six Sigma, there would only be 3.4 votes wrongly counted for every 1,000,000 casted. It is either extreme carelessness of voting judges, or fraudulent counting. Voter ID will make it harder for any fraud to occur this is because Election judges will not be able reject ballots based on basis of what they consider “suspicious” hand writing and other identity based objections used to throw out ballots.  It is the duty of government to provide for a just election to the best of their ability, this is why voting progressed from colored pebbles in bags to computerized ballot machines and other…

  3. Beyond being a poorly written amendment, I’d like to point out that this should not be a constitutional issue. Send this back to the legislature and have them draft a bill. Currently, there is no plan for how this amendment would even be implemented if it were passed. It would cost over 100 million dollars to implement, and that doesn’t include all of the money that would be spent on potential litigation that would stem from this terribly thought out amendment. 

    @Nick – Consider this; a 90 year old WWII veteran. He stormed Omaha beach and risked his life for your right to vote. Now in his early 90’s, has no drivers license and no birth certificate on hand. For him, it is going to be a challenge even getting to the polls. Imagine the trouble he would have to go to with obtaining the documentation that would be required by this amendment. For him, and the thousands like him, this amendment is everything. His right to vote is at stake. It’s our turn to fight for that right for him. Vote No (twice) tomorrow. 

  4. Pat, Really, Thousands of WWII veterans with no ID and can’t vote in Mn. and “cost over a 100 million to implement” is a joke. “Vote no (twice)” sounds like an illegal act just like all the people voting illegally. This isn’t Chicago and you are not Oliver Wendall Holmes. “The honest and independent and fearless exercise of your own franchise….a trust confided to you not for your private gain but for the public good.” Catholic Bishops of the U.S. 1840. Hate to see this vote come down to which hot air blows the best.

  5. “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”~Mike Turzai, PA House Majority Leader

    Voter ID doesn’t address major sources of error or fraud in elections. It does address Republicans’ desire to win elections by any means available.

  6. @Nick – Voting absentee isn’t a magic fix-all for out-of-state students. I am originally from Nebraska, but I have spent the last 4 years of my life living in Minnesota. At this point I am far more familiar with Minnesota politics and politicians than those of Nebraska. After I graduate I plan on staying in the Twin Cities, so I am much more invested in the future of Minnesota. I want to vote here, not in Nebraska. I think it will be the same for many future out-of-state students as well, but this amendment will make it extremely hard for them to vote here. Obtaining a MN ID isn’t just a matter of going down to the DMV and standing in line. You have to establish residency in Minneosta and provide a permanent MN address, which in turn forces you to change bank account information, credit card information, insurance information, etc. Why on earth should a student have to do all that when their out-of-state ID is valid for literally everything else?

  7. The bill is just very poorly written.  What constitutes a valid photo ID? What if it is a government ID but it does not have my address on it? I could go vote in 10 different counties and the poll official will have to let me cause my ID verifies that I am that person.  It is also spending money on a NON EXISTENT problem.  

    Also to respond to comments about the Franken/Coleman election: Most of those challenged ballots were cause of errors in filling out the ballot, not fraud.  

  8. Brandon, I initially believed that it makes complete sense to institute a policy requiring a photo ID to vote. Geena is correct in pointing out the frequency of actual voter fraud as well. The idea that voter fraud is prevalent is far more fraudulent than the amount of fraud that this be could even possibly eliminate. In addition, your argument about the Franken/Coleman senate race is completely irrelevant and you actually supported this in your statement. You pointed to “fraudulent counting”, by the time the counting occurs the process is far beyond the ID requirement. Also, any time a recount takes place the numbers change slightly. Do you remember the Jeb Bush fiasco in Florida? The point regarding a “free photo ID”. Free to whom? That makes up a significant portion of the $100 million dollars the amendment will cost. So it is not free and with our state running a large deficit with no apparent end in sight, why would we want to tack an extra $100 million on the expense column.
    continued on next entry….

  9. This is from the NY Times
    “A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 million people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet.”
    Her opinion of which demographics will be affected most by this bill is not something she simply pulled out of thin air or as you assert, “your view is racist view” (check your grammar by the way). NYU Law is a legitimate source the last time I checked. So sorry Roxanne, his argument is not well written. It is defamatory towards Geena, and the arguments are poorly supported. Calling someone a racist on a school website is a pretty strong and irresponsible thing to do simply because you do not carry the same opinion. You owe the woman an apology. Vote No

  10. “(y)et voter fraud is nonexistent in the U.S.”
     Can we all agree that this is a joke? Please google Richard Daley, Chicago. 

    Cheers to Brandon and TJ for excellent arguments. 

    This IS common sense, people. 

  11. Well hey there Ellie. I think an important distinction to make here is between in-person voter fraud, which has been virtually wiped out, and other forms of election fraud. Those other forms, such as tampering with voting machines and telling likely opposition voters the wrong voting date, may still be problematic. However, voter IDs are not an effective tool for dealing with the kinds of fraud we should be concerned about today.

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