To kick off my first blog post in this new venue, I’d like to quickly tell you all a little bit about myself. I’m a junior here at Concordia, majoring in Political Science and Chinese. I’ve lived in Moorhead since the summer before my freshman year of high school and my favorite candy in the whole entire world is Mike and Ikes.
As far as my political leanings, I’m of the opinion that the government can and should be a force for good in people’s lives. One of the most treasured rights in America is the right to vote and we exercise that right to put people in offices from County Commissioner to President of the United States because we believe those people share our views and will add our voice to the conversation. We believe that these people will do what we elected them to do because, after all, what would be the point of a government of the people and by the people if it weren’t also for the people?
To this end, we as Americans have consistently expanded the right to vote whenever possible, to women, to African-Americans and to young people. Today however, we appear to be moving in the opposite direction. For those who aren’t already aware, the ballot in Minnesota this fall will feature two proposed amendments to the state constitution. The first is a ballot measure, which would make same-sex marriage illegal by redefining marriage in the state constitution. The second proposed amendment is what is known as a Voter ID amendment and it is this amendment, which will be the subject of the remainder of this post.
Simply stated, it would basically require any citizen to present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Now, on its face, this seems like an entirely reasonable precaution. We obviously don’t want people to be able cheat to win elections. The problem is that in person voter fraud (someone going to the polls and pretending to be somebody else to cast a ballot) is a myth. Over the last decade, there have been two statewide recounts, one for Senator Al Franken’s election and the other, more recently for Governor Mark Dayton’s election. Not once, in either statewide recount, was a single case of voter fraud discovered. This is basically a solution in search of a problem. If the voter fraud that this law is supposed to protect against doesn’t exist, one begins to wonder why on earth this law would be proposed in the first place.
The reason, as it turns out, is that the law effectively disenfranchises anyone who does not have a government-issued photo ID. Seniors who live in nursing homes or who don’t drive anymore, as well as people who are too poor to afford a car – much less the fee required to get a license – would all be prevented from voting. Not only that, but the photo ID would have to have the person’s current address on it. This means that anybody who has recently moved or recently married and changed their name would also be barred from voting. Even on top of that, student ID’s would not be accepted, which means that anybody living in the dorms would not be able to vote on campus here at Concordia and many students living in rental houses would not be allowed to vote in Moorhead at all.
Now if we look back and remember that there is no in-person voter fraud in Minnesota, which makes this law pointless from the get-go, we begin to see that the people who are pushing these laws are doing so for a very specific reason: The people pushing these laws are trying to prevent the voices of certain demographics from being heard at the polls. In short, they do not want the generally liberal-minded college students to vote. So this November, get registered and get out to vote. Make your voice heard. It might be your last chance.