Stand up to legislative games on voter ID

A bill to require voters to show photo ID has turned into a chess piece.

by Kate Dobson, MPIRG member

The Voter ID legislation is confusing many people — not just the content of the bill but in the way it’s progressed through the Legislature.

The Voter ID bill has quickly moved through Senate committees. Recently, the State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee passed the bill, with limited testimony from the hundreds in attendance willing to share how this bill would impact their right to vote. What’s happening instead is a handoff of a sticky situation that our legislators are unwilling to handle, although they are paid to do just that.

Rather than politicians legislating in a way that would be best for the people that voted for them, those seeking to forward Voter ID intend to pass it from committee to committee until its passage, without listening to the thoughts and opinions of those of whom this bill will affect.

Republican Sen. Jeremy Miller has stood up against the outrageous manner that Voter ID has been passed around by stating, “My preference would be to have no constitutional amendments. I’d prefer to work through the Legislature on all legislation introduced this session.”

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group has been active on campus helping students connect with the legislators charged with considering this bill, and we have been frustrated by the response. One student called to urge a committee chair not to hold a vote yesterday on legislation that would suppress the student vote. She was told that the committee was meeting later and would indeed hold a vote, regardless.

I don’t believe the role of our legislators is to legislate through ballot measures and constitutional amendments. If it were, every citizen would be voting on every piece of legislation. This is not effective nor is it efficient and speaks to a larger issue this session, where legislators are placing the burden of ruling back to the citizens who elected them.

It is crucial that you call your legislators and let them know how you feel about Voter ID and about the way that this bill is putting students’ right to vote at risk on our campus.