Voter ID solves imaginary issue

The GOP should reconsider its bill that would require a photo ID to vote.

Daily Editorial Board

In the wake of two close recount losses during the past two election cycles, Minnesota Republicans are leading the charge to require voters to have photo IDs at the polls.

Gov. Mark Dayton hasnâÄôt expressed explicit opposition to the idea, but Secretary of State Mark Ritchie warns that the governor should be skeptical of any election bills that are supported by just one party. Ritchie is right.

In case they donâÄôt get the GovernorâÄôs support, Republicans are kicking around a plan B: putting a constitutional amendment to require a photo ID to vote on the ballot in 2012.

Supporters claim requiring a photo ID to vote is crucial to prevent voter fraud and ensure the reliability of MinnesotaâÄôs voting system. But voter fraud is an extremely minor problem in Minnesota. In 2008, of the almost 3 million ballots cast in Minnesota, there were a grand total of 47 people charged with voter fraud, only four of which were charges of double voting.

What this bill would ultimately do is deter college students, some seniors, new homeowners and women in safe houses from voting âÄî many in these groups donâÄôt have a Minnesota ID with a current address, and a student ID would no longer be sufficient. It would also deter minorities and poor people from voting, since they are less likely to have photo IDs.

The groups of voters who this bill would affect adversely tend to vote more often for Democrats. Requiring a photo ID to vote is a blatant partisan ploy to exclude groups who tend to vote for Democrats from the political process. Republicans have simply masked it as an effort to combat the nonexistent phantom of voter fraud.