The Voter Restriction Amendment isn’t simple at all. It’s a complete overhaul of an election system that works. It creates an unfunded mandate on local governments, raising property taxes. And it places hurdles in front of eligible Minnesota voters, especially members of the military, seniors and young voters.
Voter Restriction is Wrong For Minnesota. Watch the Video at Our Vote Our Future. Join Our Vote Our Future's campaign against the Voter Restriction Amendment and vote NO.
The Importance of Voting and the Crippling Effects
of the Voter Restriction Amendment
Between performances at the Gospel Music Concert in Brooklyn Center on October 26, ministers and leaders in MN nonprofit organizations introduced the concert goers to the history of voting in the U.S. and Minnesota, commented on the devastating impact the Voter Restriction Amendment would have on the Minnesota election process, and encouraged everyone to vote for the candidates who include everyone in their vision for Minnesota and the country. If you missed the concert, you can still watch several of the passionate and insightful presentations on this half hour tape.
The Presenters include:
Carolyn Jackson - Lobbying Coordinator, American Civil Liberties Union MN
The history of voting expansion in the U.S.
Dane Smith - President, Growth and Justice - MN's leadership in civil rights and voting rights and the crippling effects the so called "Photo ID" Amendment would have on MN's election process.
Joy Marsh Stephens - ISAIAH Chairperson for West suburban Region - The importance of being informed voters for elections at all levels, municipal to national, to vote for candidates that benefit everyone.
Devin Miller - Pastor of Clear Faith Christian Ministries Church of God in Christ in Richfield, MN - The spiritual nature of voting.
View the video of their talks by John Risken.
Is it true that the Voter Restriction Amendment could drastically reduce Minnesota's stellar turnout which leads the nation more often than any other state? Absolutely! We can't know by exactly how much because so much depends on how the new legislature will fill in the many details left blank. We do have some good hints, however. Election statistics and research shows how voter restrictions affect voter turnout. Minnesota had almost 3 million voters in 2008. We use this figure to keep the math simple.
Provisional Ballots - First of all, Minnesota has same day registration now. Over 540,000 Minnesotans registered and cast their vote on election day in 2008. That would change to provisional voting with the Voter Restriction Amendment. Election statistics show that states with provisional voting have 10% to 12% lower turnout than states with same day registration. A decline of 10% to 12% in Minnesota would mean that 300,000 to 360,000 fewer votes would be cast in Minnesota. This makes the change from same day registration to provisional ballots by far the most important aspect of this amendment.
A Government Issued Photo ID - Second would be a decline in turnout due to the requirement that voters have a government issued photo ID. A 2008 study of the impact of more restrictive ID laws by Shelley de Alth showed a drop in turnout of 1.6% to 2.2%. This study compared a minimal increase in restrictions. It compared requiring that voters report their name and address to the election judges to requiring that they sign an oath that they are that person or that they show one of a large variety of ID's. MN's Amendment is far more restrictive than states in Alth's study in the kinds of ID citizens can use, and it allows no exemptions as most states do. In fact, the MN Voter Restriction Amendment would make MN's photo ID requirement the most restrictive in the nation. A study of 2004 voters nationwide by Vercelloti and Anderson showed an average of 64.2 percent of the voting age population turned out in states that required voters to state their names, compared to 58.1 percent in states that required photo identification a difference of 6 percent. In MN where voters are now required to sign an oath regarding their identity, we estimate a 3% drop in turnout due to the Voter Restriction Amendment's Photo ID requirement. That would mean 90,000 fewer people would cast votes due to the photo ID requirement for in-person voters.
Same ID Required for Mail-in Voters - Finally, MN's Voter Restriction Amendment would require mail-in voters to have equivalent identification to in-person voters. No other state has such a requirement. Therefore, there are no studies to look at for the effect of such a requirement. Since the requirement relates to a similar government issued photo ID, the same estimate of a 3% drop in overall turnout is given for the mail-in photo ID requirement as for the in-person requirement. We estimate that 90,000 fewer mail-in votes would be cast due to this requirement. Keep in mind that this decline in turnout could be much higher depending on how the legislature interprets the requirement that mail-in voters have equivalent photo ID as in-person voters.
Estimate of Decline in Voter Turnout
Due to Voter Restriction Amendment
Percent Decline Number of Votes Cast
End of Same Day Registration 10% to 12% - 300,000 to - 360,000
In-Person Photo ID Requirement 3% - 90,000
Mail-in Photo ID Requirement 3% - 90,000
Estimate of Total Decline
in Turnout 16% to 18% - 480,000 to - 540,000
In other words, under the Voter Restriction Amendment, we can expect that MN would have a huge drop in turnout so that its turnout would be close to the average U.S. turnout. MN currently averages 17% higher than the U.S. turnout. The estimates above are not meant to be exact and can't be because the legislature left so much undefined in the Amendment. If this Amendment were to pass, our next legislators would make decisions that could minimize the drop in turnout or that could maximize it. The figures do demonstrate, however, that the Voter Restriction Amendment's requirements would result in a dramatic drop in votes cast in Minnesota.
If you add up the numbers of people affected by the voter restrictions in the proposed amendment, they total over 1 million. About one in three Minnesotans' voting procedures would be affected by the Amendment. About half would meet the new stricter requirements, and about half, or one in six Minnesotans, would lose their voice. People you know will not have their vote count in future elections if the Amendment passes. Could they be your child at college, your daughter serving in the military, your husband who left his wallet at the office, your former neighbors who had their house foreclosed, your grandmother in a nursing home, the elderly man who walks by your house who doesn't drive, your friend who recently moved to Rochester to take a new job, or your uncle who lives in rural Minnesota?
Will Minnesota go from the state that was a leader in making it easy for all citizens to vote and led the nation in the highest percent of citizens voting to the state which places in its Constitution the highest barriers to voting? Proponents of the Amendment to restrict voting in MN hope so, but we hope Minnesota's voters don't agree.
The MN legislature recently voted to place an Amendment to the MN Constitution which makes it more difficult for Minnesotans' vote to count on the election ballot in November. Called the "Photo ID" Amendment because that's what is stated on the ballot item, the Amendment actually makes far more sweeping changes in MN's election system. Many organizations including the League of Women Voters, Citizens for Election Integrity, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Isaiah, Catholic Charities, and Lutheran Social Services oppose this amendment to the MN Constitution and are asking voters to vote "no."
Barrier #1, Provisional Voting - The biggest barrier to having Minnesotans votes count would be provisional voting. Minnesotans now have the right to register to vote on election day and to cast their votes and have them count. Under the Amendment, Minnesotans could still register to vote, but their votes would not be cast and entered into the system. Instead, they would have to fill out a provisional ballot which would not be immediately counted. They would first have to be declared eligible to vote. This involves a series of seven checks by the MN Secretary of State and then sending a post card to their residential address and waiting to see if it is returned. If they were not declared eligible by a designated time, their vote would not count. In Indiana where a provisional balloting system was used for newly registered voters in the 2008 election, only 28% of the votes were counted. Minnesota had over 542,247, 18% of the total voters, register to vote on election night in 2008. One can easily see that there is a potential for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans to be deprived of their right to vote under this provision of the amendment alone.
Barrier #2, A Goverment Issued Photo ID - This barrier would mainly affect people who don't have a driver's license: low income Minnesotans, minorities, students, young voters, the elderly who don't drive, and disabled people. A Brennan Center for Justice study shows the disproportionate effect of a photo ID requirement:
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie estimates that approximately 84,000 Minnesotans do not have any government issued photo ID, and another 131,000 do not have an ID with their current address. Most states have exceptions to the government issued ID for the poor and disabled, but MN's Amendment to Restrict Voting allows no exceptions.
Barrier #3 - Government Issued Photo ID Required for Mail-in Voters - Mail-in voters would be required to provide verification of their identity which is equivalent to the photo ID required for citizens voting at their polling place. This is not required by any other state, and it is not clear how this would work. This barrier would effect 293,830 voters, including military personnel, people in rural townships, and absentee voters.
Mark Ritchie outlined the changes of the MN Constitutional Amendment to Restrict Voting Rights after placing the Amendment on the ballot in the November election was passed by Republicans in the MN House and Senate.
1) He remarked that the biggest change by far is the creation of a new system called provisional balloting. It is the most expensive and most dramatic change.
2) Eligibility to vote would have to be verified on a substantially equivalent basis no matter the date of the application to vote. This involves a 7 step process. Local officials would have to complete the steps before any voter's ballot can be cast or counted. In the last presidential election, 500,000 voters used same day registration. Under the amendment they would have to fill out the provisional ballot and an application for provisional balloting, in addition to showing a government issued photo ID.
3) The Amendment requires substantially equivalent verification of identity for people who vote by mail including absentee voters, military voters, and voters in townships with all mail balloting. There is no definition of what equivalent verification would be. No state has ever done it. We don't know how it would be done. Verification of identity would have to be submitted along with their ballot.
4) In person voters would have to present a government issued photo ID.
Secretary of State Ritchie commented that these are radical changes to MN Voting system. The cost is very high. It will be chaotic especially for local government officials. Watch the 40 minute press conference.