Sen. Sieben: Photo ID is Major Voting Roadblock

Earlier today, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate approved legislation that will provide a major roadblock to voting for the tens of thousands of Minnesotans who currently do not have photo identification.

S.F. 509 requires all Minnesotans to show a photo ID when voting, creating major obstacles to voting for 144,000 Minnesotans who are eligible to vote and who do not have a valid driver’s license, permit or ID card. This number includes a disproportionate number of elderly, disabled, and homeless citizens. The bill also hits students and younger voters, who tend to move more often and would not have a driver’s license bearing their current address as the proposed law would require.

“This is a truly risky proposal that disenfranchises thousands of law-abiding Minnesotans,” said state Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, the Senate DFL lead on elections issues. “Roughly one-quarter of all senior citizens do not have a valid photo ID. Rather than stopping voter fraud, the net effect of this legislation will be to take away the right to vote from seniors, students, and low-income Minnesotans.”

Sen. Sieben added that Republican leaders are making up solutions to problems that don’t exist.

In 2008, a survey of county attorneys in Minnesota found only 38 cases of voter fraud – of which, 100 percent were cases of felons voting. The photo ID legislation does nothing to stop felons from voting, as no form of photo identification in Minnesota lists a person’s criminal past.

In fact, Sen. Sieben said, Minnesota already has one of the best, most secure, and consistently tested election systems in the country.

“Republicans are proposing to spend millions of dollars on stopping a problem that clearly doesn’t exist,” said Sen. Sieben. “Even worse, the bill will almost certainly lower voter participation and block eligible voters from having a say in our elections. I can’t understand how Republicans think we can afford to spend money to stop people from voting, at the same time we’re cutting funding for schools, colleges, and health care for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Sen. Sieben said it’s clear this proposal is nothing more than political gamesmanship.

“Republicans claim they support voter ID for election integrity, but this bill is all about gaining an advantage for their party and turning certain voters away from the polls,” said Sen. Sieben. “They’re using public tax dollars to stop seniors, students, and low-income Minnesotans from voting. This is just another example of the misplaced priorities we’ve seen from the Republican legislative majorities.”

For more information, Sen. Sieben may be contacted at 651-297-8060 or sen.katie.sieben@senate.mn.

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Senator Katie Sieben
Assistant Majority Leader Senate District 54
Katie Sieben is the Assistant Majority Leader and represents District 54, which includes portions of Dakota and Washington counties. She is the chair of the Subcommittee on Elections and the vice chair of the Rules and Administration Committee.

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