Who Is Behind It
A report by TakeAction Minnesota, describes how Minnesota’s wealthiest financial institutions and their executives, lobbying groups, and PACs together with the Chamber of Commerce pooled funds and shared resources to enable a Republican takeover of the state legislature in 2010. The Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Business Partnership, and Minnesota Forward donated hundred of thousands of dollars to candidates who won seats in the MN House and Senate.
These Senators and Representatives are the ones that passed the referendum for a MN Constitutional Amendment that would prevent hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans from casting a vote. Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota, called the Amendment to Restrict Voting “An intentional effort to reduce the voting rolls in order to help corporate conservatives further expand their wealth and power.”
A report by Take Action MN reveals that the financial interests behind the efforts to insert the Amendment to Restrict Voting Rights into the MN Constitution are the three largest banks in MN: Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and TCF. Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TAMN stated that this Amendment will make it more difficult, if not impossible, for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans to vote. "This is a very insidious Amendment which will rewrite the rules to benefit the 1%."
These banks financially backed the 2010 takeover of the House and Senate by Republicans. They spent almost a half million dollars to elect 25 new members to the legislature. They put members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who are leading the attack on the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, in key positions of leadership. The money that banks spent dwarfed the amounts candidates themselves raised for their campaigns. McGrath concluded, "Photo ID is an attempt to fundamentally change the rules of democracy to benefit the wealthiest and most powerful." Watch the press release video.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization of large multi-national corporations and legislators, is behind legislation that restricts voting rights in states throughout the nation. ALEC meets secretly to draft legislation which the legislators then present to their state legislatures. View the Center for Media and Democracy's 2.5 minute video depicting how ALEC works.
For example, the members of ALEC are fully aware that many people will encounter problems in acquiring a government issued photo ID and that laws and constitutional amendments requiring a photo ID will reduce the number of people who are likely to vote against ALEC's preferred candidates. Likewise ALEC's promotion of provisional ballots for people who register at their polling place results in many of the votes never being cast because the process of verifying voters' eligibility takes too long. For more on ALEC's influence on elections, see John Nichols' article in the Nation, "ALEC Exposed: Rigging Elections."
State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer is ALEC’s state chairman for Minnesota. She authored the photo ID bill that passed the MN House and Senate last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton as well as the referendum to be placed on the ballot in November. 15 GOP sponsors of Minnesota’s photo ID amendment are ALEC members, according to a report by Take Action Minnesota: "The 1% versus Democracy."
As Minnesota’s former Secretary of State, Kiffmeyer is known for attempting to pass rules that would prevent certain people from voting. During her tenure, she issued a number of rules that would have disenfranchised voters had courts not ruled against them. In 2004, Kiffmeyer ruled that voters were required to have a valid ID that “exactly matched” the information on her registered voter rolls.
Through their large contributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council and to candidates that support their positions, billionaire political operatives Charles and David Koch have bought access to undermine a central requirement of a democracy: free and fair elections. The Kochs have funded legislation aimed at thwarting 21 million Americans from voting. Koch dollars helped to write and propose voting suppression bills in 38 states.
Watch the Robert Greewald and Brave New Foundation Video: "Are the Koch Brothers Denying Your Vote?"