DFLers shot down voter ID bill

Requiring an ID to vote is common sense and will improve the integrity of our elections. But Democrats wrongly claim it would suppress voters.

In St. Paul last week an eye-opening but unsurprising event occurred: A state representative introduced a bill to improve the fairness and accuracy of our election system that was quickly shot down by Democrats. The bill was part of a growing trend across the nation to require some sort of government issued ID (photo or nonphoto) when checking in at the voting booth. IâÄôve been following this issue since I first got involved in politics in high school, and I have to admit that when I first read the proposal, it was difficult for me to understand that there are actually two sides to this issue. As an election judge, it was even harder for me to understand why anyone would oppose requiring someone to prove their identity before casting a ballot for our leaders. The bill (HF 57) was introduced in the Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee and shot down 11- 8 before it even reached the House floor. But this bill is not new to Minnesota politics. For years, Republicans have fought for its passage, citing overwhelming popular support. A 2006 Rasmussen poll of Minnesotans found 83 percent in favor of requiring identification to vote, and a poll before the historic 2008 election cycle found 73 percent in favor . My point: The issue is not a partisan issue to average Minnesotans, just at the Capitol. Across the country, more and more states have adopted policies towards securing their election procedures using voter ID. A CNN analysis found 22 states require some type of ID to vote, three of those require a photo ID, and three others request a photo ID but do not require it. I have always argued that we shouldnâÄôt do something because other states and institutions are doing it, but this issue is unique because Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout. This statistic mandates we verify that those millions that are voting are all entitled to vote both legally and ethically. The reasons for this bill are pretty clear, but there are a few important issues to consider. First, the integrity of the entire election system is based on perception, not reality, and if the public doesnâÄôt trust in that integrity, participation will drop. As we have learned with the Senate race, every vote counts, and every voter deserves to know their vote wasnâÄôt cancelled out by someone not entitled to vote. Does fraud ever happen in the polling place? You better believe it. Democrats have answered this question by declaring there is no clear evidence of fraud, so the issue should be left alone. This answer in itself should be a red flag to the common sense citizen, because reports of fraud come in every election year and are not widely publicized. One outside study interviewed dozens of county auditors, prosecutors, and even the Secretary of StateâÄôs office to find that reports of voter fraud are much more widespread than most people think. Democrats have argued that senior citizens and minorities are at risk of being shut out of elections under this law (the same group of voters that widely favor Democrats in elections), which is why a provision has been added to the bill to provide state-issued IDs to these voters free of charge. If voters donâÄôt have an ID on Election Day, they can cast a provisional ballot, and have five days to prove they are who they say they are. It isnâÄôt just noncitizens that have been voting. Minnesota majority says it found deceased voters on the roll, felons, duplicate voters, along with other inconsistencies. The public has the right to know this has been minimized. The timing of this legislation is correct, not only because of the issues presented in the most recent election, but because many other âÄúguinea pigâÄù states have worked out many of the issues in this type of law. Hans von Spakovsky , former elections commission and Justice Department official, writes in the Wall Street Journal that voter turnout actually increased in states with this law in place, and there was no evidence to suggest voters did not vote because of it âÄî or that they had trouble obtaining an ID to vote. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have tried to claim the law would suppress black turnout. But in Georgia and Indiana âÄî the strictest states âÄî black and Democratic turnout were at historical highs in 2008. This was undoubtedly boosted by Barack ObamaâÄôs candidacy, but the point still stands: Minority voters were not suppressed by the laws. On top of that, the Supreme Court ruled last year that IndianaâÄôs photo ID laws were absolutely constitutional. Although the bill was shot down by three votes in committee, it will certainly reappear later this session in the Legislature. There is a reason the people widely support it and a reason the beneficiaries of no-ID law oppose it. Without ID checks, the evidence points to the theory that people illegally voting overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The time has come to improve the legitimacy of our elections, and verifying people as who they say they are is not a âÄúhassleâÄù as it has been called by opponents. ItâÄôs easy to forget the important things going on right down the road at the Capitol by the outrageous pork festivals going on in Washington. But these issues affect us all and are in some ways more important to pay attention to. If youâÄôre in favor of fair elections, this is a no-brainer. Andy Post welcomes comments at [email protected]