Rybak, students join to oppose voter ID

Students from across MN met on campus to oppose the amendment.

Cody Nelson

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak and students from various Minnesota colleges spoke out Tuesday morning in Coffman Union to oppose Minnesota’s proposed voter ID amendment.

The event was sponsored by Our Vote Our Future, a group that opposes the amendment.

“[The amendment] is creating a number of problems while searching for a problem itself,” Rybak said, adding that, as opponents of voter ID have argued, the amendment could disenfranchise many Minnesotans.

Students from private and public colleges from around the state spoke and had varying reasons to oppose the amendment.

Minnesota Student Association president Taylor Williams spoke against the amendment because of the cost involved with providing government identification to eligible voters. He said there are better uses for the state’s money.

MSA, the undergraduate student government at the University of Minnesota, passed a position statement officially opposing the amendment during a meeting earlier this month.

Others focused on the language of the amendment.

Alex Kopel, a University of St. Thomas student, said it’s possible that students at public and private schools will have different rights if the amendment passes. She added that this is unclear because of the amendment’s “poor wording.”

Winona State University Student Senate President Alexandra Griffin said the amendment’s language “leaves a lot of loose ends” that would need to be addressed by the Legislature later.

If the amendment passes in November, how it will be implemented will be left up to the state Legislature. All 201 legislative seats in the state are up for grabs this election, and the make-up of the Legislature will influence implementation of the measure.

Rybak said that the amendment is on the ballot because the Legislature “couldn’t agree” and had to put the voter ID issue to a vote.

University chemistry professor and faculty senate member Chris Cramer also spoke against voter ID.

“Voting is not a privilege. … It is a right in a democracy,” he said.

The University Senate passed a resolution at its October meeting to encourage education on the voter ID amendment before the Nov. 6 election.

A recent Survey USA poll sponsored by KSTP  asked 550 likely voters about the amendment. About 53 percent of Minnesotans said they supported requiring an ID in order to vote.