Editorial: ECM opposes voter ID amendment

This country is stronger when virtually every adult is empowered with their constitutional right to vote.

Few restrictions should limit this right, and a change in those limits should only be made when it’s been demonstrated that the rights of the majority are in danger.

There are two principles of a free election on which all should agree.  Those who either are not citizens or who have lost their right to vote should not be voting. Every citizen regardless of economic physical condition, politics, religious belief, race, gender or age must be given an opportunity to vote.

On Nov. 6, Minnesotans will vote on a significant change in voting rights – a constitutional amendment that would require a valid voter identification with a photograph of the individual voting.

If passed, the amendment also says the state must issue photographic identification at no charge.  A voter unable to provide a government-issued photograph identification would be permitted to cast a provisional ballot that can be counted only after lawful identification is provided.

The Editorial Board of ECM Publishers Inc., heard presentations by two experts on both sides of this question.  One representing opposition to the amendment was Mark Ritchie, secretary of state, and a chief proponent, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, former Secretary of State.

After those presentations and some discussion, the board voted to oppose the voter ID amendment.

Republicans who have proposed the amendment argue that strict voter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

The editorial board’s primary reason for opposing the amendment is lack of evidence of voter fraud and voter impersonation in Minnesota elections. According to an exhaustive search and analysis of voter fraud by the Carnegie-Knight’s “News21” program, there have been 10 cases of voter fraud and no cases of voter impersonation in Minnesota since the year 2,000.

Proponents of the amendment point to 6,200 people who voted in an election whose addresses could not be traced.  The inability of following up on the addresses  for 6,200 out of two to three million voters is not proof of voter fraud and much less conclusive proof that the constitution should be amended.

County officials are concerned that passage of the voter ID amendment alone would cost local, county and state governments millions of extra dollars. Some experts believe that voter photo ID would make it more difficult for poor people and minorities to vote.

Proponents counter that the amendment would strengthen the integrity of the voting system and guarantee that the one voting is the one in the photograph, eliminating voter impersonation.   The News 21 study, however, showed that of 146 million registered voters in the United States in elections since the year 2000, there were 10 cases of voter impersonation.

The editorial board also noted that Minnesota consistently is a leader in voter turnout, in part because it has same-day voter registration that would be eliminated in favor of provisional voting, which some experts believe could reduce the number of voters, drive up the cost of elections and delay the outcome.

The editorial board also stressed that the mechanics of conducting an election should be handled in the legislature and not by amending the constitution, which was written to protect voter freedom.

In the final analysis, the empowerment of every citizen to cast a ballot outweighs the prevention of perceived but unproven voter fraud.
— This is a product of the ECM Editorial Board.

  • Bill

    Yes they run the ECM, but should not have this gone in the Opinion section.
    Yes everyone has a opinion on this issue, so do those who agree with this, get to put it on the front page also.
    Right or Wrong everyone must play with the same rules. By the way I care less about this one,

  • Barbara

    Thank you ECM Editorial Board! The opinion page is the perfect place for this. Publishing your conclusion that the constitution is wrong headed restores my spirit. I hope all of you take pride in your work.

  • Sue

    Do some research on how JFK won in Texas and the city of Chicago. Chicago had more votes cast than statistically was possible. In some areas in MN we had more votes cast than registered voters. College students admitted they had voted twice, once by absentee ballot from home address, and in person where they were attending college. A woman running for office (in another state) was just busted for voting in FL in 08, where she had a winter home & again in her home state. You have to look for voter fraud to find it. Requiring voter ID helps diminish the cheating.

    • Tamara Baker

      All you need to know about these cookie-cutter “Photo ID” bills and amendments that Republicans in various state legislatures have been pushing is the following:

      — The bills are inspired by “model bills” crafted by ALEC, the corporate legislation factory that tells Republicans what bills their billionaire backers want them to pass.

      — The bills won’t stop problems with voting, but instead keep tens if not hundreds of thousands of legal voters from voting

      — The bills will force city and county governments, which are already short of money, to waste millions paying for these unfunded mandates. The cities and counties will either have to raise property taxes or stop hiring cops or fixing roads in order to pay for this boondoggle. Go ask a county clerk in charge of handling voting what he or she thinks of these bills, especially the Minnesota amendment, and you’ll hear how horrified the cities and counties are at the prospect of seeing this thing suck money out of their budgets, just so Republicans can keep legal voters who might vote for Democrats from being able to vote.

  • Sue

    “just so Republicans can keep legal voters who might vote for Democrats from being able to vote.”

    How would this amendment “keep legal voters who might vote for Democrats” from being able to vote? Would it not then also stop legal voters who might vote Republican from being able to vote? If not, why?

  • James Peek

    Where does the constitution give every citizen the right to vote? Will you please point that out to me?