Barriers in Voter Restriction Amendment Could Prevent Hundreds of Thousands from Having Votes Count PDF Print E-mail

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."

voting is your right - will it countBarrier #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:

adults without valid photo id

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.




MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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