To the editor:
This is in response to Jane Downs' informative letter concerning Voter IDs. From her listing of web sites I found nothing to verify her initial statement that "state voter fraud (in Minnesota) was the worst in the country." Moving on The bottom line in the debate over the Voter ID regulation is whether there is a credible issue concerning voter fraud, or if this is a measure set in place to discourage voter participation or to prevent the voting process from being open to all without charge.
According to Barnard political scientist Lorraine Minnite, most instances of improper voting involve registration and eligibility, such as voters filling out forms incorrectly or a person who is a felon voting. Neither of these issues would be prevented by a state voter ID requirement (The word 'felon" is not printed on a felon's ID). Although Democratic Governor Mark Dayton survived a recount vote, and the Republicans controlled the state senate and house, neither side alleged voter fraud. All of the regulations relating to voter ID are supposedly enacted to eliminate voter impersonation fraud. However, a 2007 analysis from the New York Times attributes only 86 convictions of voter fraud in a 5-year span, stemming from an intensive investigation by the Dept of Justice during the Bush Administration. The consequences of voter fraud include a felony conviction, lengthy prison term, and a $10,000 fine.
Background information needed to understand the issue: Former President George W. Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned because of the scandal surrounding eight U. S. Attorneys for their refusal to prosecute non-existent voter fraud. The Republican Party tried to make voter fraud an issue from 2005-2010 and it simply could not be found. In the 2010 election the Republican Party took over multiple governorships and state legislative bodies, and the issue was again put on their agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), founded by the Koch Brothers, and a liaison between business and conservative legislators, wrote the Voter ID laws, and adapted them into different state legislation. A number of businesses left the organization because of their (ALEC's) involvement in the controversial legislation. These include Proctor & Gamble, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft and McDonalds, to name just a few. Needless to say, not al! Republicans were in favor of the Voter ID bill. Norman Ornstein, a political scholar at the ALEC and an opponent of the legislation noted, "It is time for a Voting Rights Act of 2012, a new federal law to make federal elections free and fair, with the goal of enhancing the ability of eligible voters to vote, not the opposite." The ALEC has since disassociated itself from the issue.
On June 25th, 2012 Rep. Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania Republican House leader, was listing legislative accomplishments when he said, "the voter ID law is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania." (Google MikeTurzai) How you may ask? The state's Department of Transportation released figures in the state showing that more than 750,000 voters, 9.2% of the voters there, do not have the required forms of ID to vote in November. 18% of Philadelphia residents, who overwhelmingly vote democratic, don't have adequate IDs to vote in 2012. Amazingly, Pennsylvania has admitted in court filings that "there have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud." In other words no complaints were filed. This reinforced the view that the voter ID issue concerns voter suppression, not voter fraud.
Are we willing to disenfranchise poor, elderly and minority voters and students over what has been deemed to be 'a solution in need of a problem'? Is this the American way?
I am not alone with my concern. The following were among over 70 non-port/son organizations who opposed the proposed legislation: AARP, American Association of University Women, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Citizens for Election Integrity, League of Rural Voters, League of Women Voters, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, MSU Student Association. Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).