Sieben: Current GOP Voter ID Proposal Fails to Improve Minnesota Elections
This afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee approved legislation that seeks to rewrite the state’s constitution to make it more difficult for thousands of Minnesotans to vote.
S.F. 1577, which seeks voter approval to require that Minnesotans provide photographic identification in order to cast a ballot, would disenfranchise thousands of law-abiding citizens. The proposal places bureaucracy and paperwork between eligible voters and the ballot box, and unfairly burdens those who cannot easily acquire a new driver’s license, permit or ID card. This is especially harmful to the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless, as well as those who move frequently—college students, low-income voters, and members of the military serving overseas.
ving us in the wrong direction,” said Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport. “Instead of investing scarce resources in modernizing our election system, Republicans propose spending millions on buying people IDs. Our money would be better spent updating technology to make voting more efficient and secure.”
Sen. Sieben, the DFL lead on the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee, also expressed concern with the lack of detail in the GOP proposal. Sen. Sieben noted, “To begin with, it fails to explain what would be an acceptable photo ID or how local governments would cover the costs of implementation.”
Several other questions are left unanswered, almost certain to result in unintended consequences. While the proposal itself says the photo ID will be provided to eligible voters at no cost, how would a citizen cover the costs of obtaining the documents needed to become eligible for a state-issued ID? What is to prevent an election judge from turning away voters because they look differently on Election Day than they do on their ID? With photo ID cards mandated in the Minnesota Constitution, what will happen in a few years when newer technology could replace the plastic ID card?
“I’m all for improving elections,” added Sen. Sieben, “but a photo ID requirement in the constitution is simply not needed. Minnesota leads the nation in turning out on Election Day, and we have proven the integrity of our elections in recent statewide recounts. This is voter suppression, it’s costly to taxpayers, and it won’t even stop felons from voting,” said Sen. Sieben.
“People I talk to are more concerned with getting good-paying jobs in our state than getting a new constitution.”