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Roseville Pro and Con on Voter ID Amendment

Opposing perspectives on the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment.

The latest polls indicate that it is a virtual toss up whether Minnesota voters will approve the proposed Voter ID Amendment. (Click to see this Patch story).

Meanwhile, if you are a Roseville voter still undecided on how you will cast your ballot on this issue or just want more information about it, here are two viewpoints on the proposed amendment.

Republican Mike Boguszewski supports the amendment while John Marty, long-time DFL state senator for Roseville, opposes it.

Here are opinion pieces that each man offered to Roseville Patch in recent months:

The Case For the Voter ID amendment by Mike Boguszewski

In 2008 I was a volunteer poll observer at a precinct here in Roseville.

About mid-day a young woman arrived with two young children in tow. She had never registered before, had recently moved into Roseville, and had nothing with her to verify she lived in the precinct. 

The Election Judge who was registering folks that day, very properly told her that she needed to have something that would show her residence here – if not some kind of formal ID, then at least a utility bill sent to her at her local address, or some other evidence on the official list.  Or she could get hold of an already-registered voter who could come and vouch for her.  She was disappointed, and left. 

The registering Judge didn’t like having to stick to the rules. I could tell he felt bad about not letting her register, but he did his job.  About an hour later, she returned, again with her kids, this time with some bills, her rental agreement, several other authentic documents from the utility company and so on.  The election judge properly and happily accepted these as verification.  She registered and voted. 

Fast forward to 2010.  I again had volunteered, but because I was now “experienced”, my job was to go to various precincts to answer any questions the poll observers may have as they proformed their duties. 

While I was in a St Paul precinct, a young man arrived to vote. He also had no ID, just like the young woman two years before. 

However, he did have a piece of paper.  It was a plain 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper, on which were printed words to the effect of “Energy Company, California”, and there were some numbers on it.  It was not on any kind of official stock, it had no graphic letterhead symbol. It did have his name and an address of an apartment building in the precinct printed at the top.  It looked as if it had simply been created on a home computer and printed out.  When he presented this at the table, the Election Judge accepted it.

The poll observer – as was his job – immedately went to the Chief Judge to inform her he suspected a challengable registration.  The observers do not interfere in any way with the voter or the registration process – if they have a question about something they observe, they take it to the Chief Judge. 

The Chief Judge walked over to the registration judge, asked to see the “bill”, looked it over, looked at the voter, looked at the first judge, and said that she also accepted it. The young man voted and left.

Was that young man indeed a citizen living in the precinct with every right to vote there?  He may well have been – but the piece of paper he brought certainly didn’t prove it. 

However, election judges have the authority to make those decisions.  The Roseville judge did it right in 2008.  The St Paul judge in 2010 should have handled it the same way, but didn’t.

Do I believe that the St Paul judge – and others in heavily partisan precincts – intentionally allowed persons to vote without valid proof of residency and identity because by demograpics or otherwise they assume they’ll be voting the “right” way?  Some believe that. 

Do I believe that some election judges, when faced with having to tell someone they can’t vote, in the heat of the moment, with sometimes a line going out the door, just don’t have the personality or strength of character to do their job and enforce the rules?  Some believe that, too.  

If election judges are a weak spot in the system, then let’s give them voter i.d. as a tool, and not put them in as difficult a position.

After the man in 2010 voted, the poll observer logged in the challenge, all proper and good, and after the election it was added to the thousands of such challenges made – but the vote was cast, and it counted. 

Notices are sent out to the names and addresses of such voters afterward – thousands and thousands are returned “Addressee Unknown” or with invalid addresses.  Thousands and thousands. 

But those against voter i.d. say, “well,there’s no problem, how many cases were actually brought to court, or convicted?”  This occurrence is a perfect example of why that question is asked to intentionally mislead people and twist the argument – it would be as if someone stole your ice cream cone and ate it, then when you went to authorities they asked, “well, he doesn’t have any ice cream cone, where’s your proof?”  Illegal votes are not correctable.  Voter fraud needs to be prevented, before it happens.

The woman in 2008 can be proud of casting her vote, maybe her first ever, and of doing it by joining into our election process in the right way, even having to trek back to her home with her kids to get documentation. 

I often wonder just what we tell her about how her vote is, in effect, wiped out.  It doesn’t matter for whom an improper vote is cast – every single invalid vote disenfranchises a valid one.  The loose process we have today disenfranchises all of us.

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The Case Against the Voter ID Amendment by John Marty

Supporters of Minnesota's proposed Constitutional Amendment to restrict voting ask people to ratify it based on an appeal to their narrow self interest. Despite the lack of fraud from voter impersonation, they imply that a voter is "protecting" his or her own vote.

But blocking tens of thousands of other Minnesotans from voting because one or two of them might have been fraudulent, is in not protecting one's own vote. 

Amendment proponents appeal to fear and self-interest, but I want to appeal to Minnesotans' sense of fairness. It is wrong to place roadblocks that make it impossible to vote for the senior in assisted living, the soldier serving in Afghanistan, the disabled woman who is homebound, or the veteran who is homeless. They have a right to vote too. 

In our democracy, the right to vote is fundamental. Not just for you and me, but for all citizens of our state. Taking away the vote from our neighbors under the pretext of preventing "fraud" is a radical step backwards for that democracy. The constitution is supposed to guarantee human rights, not take them away from others who Republican politicians apparently don't want to vote. 

This anti-democracy initiative is present in many states, but the proposed amendment in Minnesota is perhaps the worst assault on voters. 

The recent Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on the amendment shows that if it is ratified, people needing to vote absentee by mail would lose their right to vote. The Court's opinion explicitly said that under the amendment, absentee voters who couldn't hand the election judge the government-issued photo identification, would be required to provide "something that is virtually identical to such identification."

There is no way that an election judge can make a "virtually identical" verification, comparing a voter's face to their photo ID, when the election judge is in St. Paul and the absentee voter mails their ballot from a remote outpost in Afghanistan, or from anywhere else. 

It is not only out-of-town voters disenfranchised by the amendment. The amendment authors tell voters not to worry about the details because they will be worked out later, by the legislature. But we don't need to wait to see the intent.

The amendment's authors already showed us their intent in legislation they passed last year, blocked only by the governor's veto. In it, they would give almost no alternative to producing a drivers' license (or the state non-driver ID or a new ID created just for voting) showing the voter's current address, in order to vote. 

No military IDs would be allowed. No student IDs either. While many voters assume that "everyone" has a drivers license with their current address, that simply isn't reality. And if your wallet is stolen, or you misplace your license in the weeks before an election, you won't be able to vote. 

Students living away from home in a dorm, who would no longer be able to vote absentee, would need to pay for a driver's license for their new address even if they are only living there for nine months!

Virtually no homeless Minnesotan, including the many Vietnam-era veterans who are living on the streets, would be able to vote if this provision is enshrined in our constitution. They risked their lives for our country, but they are not good-enough to vote? 

And if a senior in assisted living or a nursing home didn't happen to keep their no-longer-needed driver's license, can you envision family members or friends transporting frail, elderly people from the nursing home to the license bureau to get a photo ID, just so they can vote? 

This amendment isn't preventing fraud. It's preventing seniors in nursing homes from voting. 

While Republican legislators claim this is about preventing fraud, the only type of fraud that a photo ID requirement might prevent, is when a person tries to vote by impersonating someone else. A national investigative report found only ten cases of voter impersonation in the entire U.S. during the past decade. 

That's about one preventable voter fraud case in Minnesota every 50 years! For that, taxpayers would spend $32,000,000 in state funds, plus additional city and county costs - just for the first year.

And, in the process we would take away the right to vote for tens of thousands of seniors, students, people with disabilities, people whose license was recently lost or stolen, and people who are more pressed with feeding their children than paying for a duplicate birth certificate and other documentation so that they can qualify for a "free" photo ID card for voting. 

Minnesota has an election system that has relied, successfully, on voters signing an oath that they are eligible to vote, with violators facing a five year felony penalty. We have consistently had the nation's best voting system, and the highest voter turn-out. This constitutional amendment would destroy that. 

The real fraud is the claim that this amendment is about fraud prevention. It is a blatant attempt to take away voting rights from countless Minnesota voters. A century after women were given the right to vote and 50 years after African-Americans were given the right to vote, this amendment would move Minnesota backwards. 

Our democracy depends, not only on your individual right to vote, but also on the individual right of all of your neighbors to vote. It's time for Minnesotans to speak out on behalf of our neighbors and defeat this mean-spirited amendment.

 

scott craig November 06, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Thank you. I think this information was well presented.
Scott Carlson November 06, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Scott, glad the information was helpful to you. Let us know how the voting goes today and what kind of lines and wait you encounter.

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