Governor's veto of Photo ID Bill. Citizens for Election Integrity & League of Women Voters MN statement

May 31, 2011

Sebeka-Menahga Review Messenger

League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWV) and Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN) commend Governor Dayton for vetoing the elections/photo ID bill, which would have represented the greatest threat to citizens’ right to vote since poll taxes and literacy tests.  

“Voting is a fundamental constitutional right,” said Stacy Doepner-Hove, president of LWV Minnesota. “This legislation would have undermined the most basic right in our democratic system and cost the state and local governments millions of dollars, at a time when their coffers are empty.”

“Regardless of the authors’ intent, this bill would have suppressed the vote of those less likely to have government-issued photo IDs, including the frail elderly, students, the poor, and minorities,” said Laura Fredrick Wang, Interim Executive Director of LWV Minnesota. “All voters, even those who are already registered and have voted for years, as well as those who plan to vote absentee, would have been affected.”

“In Minnesota and other states,” Wang continued, “a small group has repeatedly raised the specter of voter fraud to undermine confidence in our electoral processes and justify requiring a government-issued photo ID of all voters. But almost no evidence supports these allegations, and certainly not in Minnesota which is nationally recognized for the integrity of its election system.”

CEIMN analyzed data from Minnesota County Attorneys and determined there was only one group who had been convicted of voting improperly—felons. But since a photo ID does not indicate someone’s status as a felon, a photo ID requirement would not improve the integrity of Minnesota’s election system. “We make recommendations based on verifiable facts,” stated CEIMN Associate Director, Kathy Bonnifield, “After completing our report, not one single argument has convinced us that conditioning the right to vote on presenting a photo ID will improve the integrity of Minnesota’s elections.”

Moreover, “the photo ID requirement in this bill would have been one of the most restrictive in the nation,” said Sherri Knuth, LWV Minnesota’s Public Policy Coordinator. “With extremely limited exceptions, it requires every voter to have a state-issued driver’s license, ID card, or voter ID card. Right now only about 10 states ask voters to show a photo ID, and most of those states—unlike this bill-- allow alternative proof of identification, such as presenting a photo ID that was not issued by the state or signing an affidavit to attest to who you are.”

“Our government should stand on the side of citizens who want to exercise their right to vote, not create unnecessary obstacles,” Doepner-Hove concluded.