To the editor:
"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"
This is the question that will be asked of Minnesota voters on Nov. 6. We can answer either "yes" or "no". But do you know what it means?
What is a "valid photo identification?" That is not addressed; the final language and requirements are to be decided by the 2013 legislature. We will be voting for something we know little about.
Free? The "free" card will cost us taxpayers between $10 million and $12 million initially with $2-3 million per election cycle and additional costs could bring it to over $40 million. The "state" will pay for some of the costs while the townships will carry the burden of the cost. Our "free" card will cost us taxpayers dearly.
We are told that the photo ID's will be "free." However to obtain an ID a person must first prove you are who you say you are by producing a birth certificate. For a woman who got married she must also produce a copy of her marriage license. If she ever divorced and remarried or if her first husband passed away and she remarried she would also have to produce a copy of the second marriage license. That would be fairly easy IF she lived in the same state all her life but if she moved about that would be difficult.
We've heard about former Governor Arne Carlson, on his birth certificate his name is "Baby Carlson." In order for him to obtain a valid photo identification card he'll have to go to court to get his name on his birth certificate. If your name was misspelled on your birth certificate you will also have to go to court to get that corrected.
The documents needed for proof have to be provided at the VOTERS expense. The cost of a certified birth certificate is $26 in Minnesota. Many people can't afford the documentation needed to obtain an ID.
In Indiana, a state that has photo ID requirements, they offer exemptions to people who are too poor to get IDs. (In fact, they also offer exemptions to people who live in nursing homes that also serve as polling places.) But, because the language of our proposed amendment says "all voters" it means we can't create exemptions. This means that if this passes, Minnesota will have the strictest voter photo ID requirement in the United States
I encourage everyone to vote NO on the Voter ID amendment. When you vote don't think only of how "easy" it could be for you to obtain a photo ID but think how difficult it will be for approximately 210,000 fellow Minnesotans to obtain a valid photo ID or to get to a poll to vote.
Vote NO on the Voter ID Amendment.
Mary Lou Bonnifield