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Ellison: Voter ID Will Keep Snowplows Off the Roads

Packed community forum urged opposition to the proposed amendment, citing impact on poor, elderly, and students.

Speaking to a packed crowd at the  in St Louis Park on Monday, Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) said a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voters to present government-issued IDs at polling places could cost local governments millions.

Ellison claimed the law could cost Ramsey County $2 million alone.

He painted this picture of the effects associated with implementing the voter ID amendment: “You’re not getting your streets plowed, so we can stop a fraud that does not exist.”  

The ballot question asks: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Ellison Challenger Disputes Costs

Though the forum was sparsely attended by amendment supporters, the measure is not without its supporters, including Ellison's Republican challenger, Chris Fields.

"It’s just common sense. There’s nothing I’ve read that suggests that people can’t vote," Fields said in an interview with Patch, citing a proposed "provisional ballot" process. "If it does turn out to be a Norm Coleman-type race, you can go back and say, ‘Hey, please count my ballot because now I can validate my address.’ To me it’s just good, common sense."

He also rejected claims about the cost associated with obtaining and maintaining the correct government identification, saying Ellison and other voter ID opponents had "lost their credibility." 

"What disturbs me is some of the rhetoric coming from the other side, saying this is a poll tax," he said. "That’s completely disingenuous, to say the least. We’re not telling folks they can’t vote. We’re not putting up a barrier between them and their right to vote. We just want to make sure that the integrity of our electoral system is sound."

Panelists Urge Opposition

Around 175 people attended the community forum and panel discussion. Panelists included State Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-District 46B), and education consultant and former University of Minnesota Regent Dr. Josie Johnson, along with an Ellison campaign staffer and an Iraq war veteran.  

Simon said out that because it was a constitutional amendment, tweaks to the voter ID system would be very difficult if unforeseen problems arose.

“It’s not just a bad idea, it’s a bad idea etched in stone,” he said.

Johnson said she was disappointed that Minnesota would even consider a measure whose “origin [was] in the days when a deliberate effort was made to keep us African Americans from voting.”

She also urged audience members to fight the measure.

“What we can do is not put Minnesota in the camp of people trying to deny the right to vote," she said.

Audience Echoes Panelists

During the discussion part of the evening, many audience members shared concerns that the amendment would prevent the elderly, those with special needs, students, and the poor from voting.

“This is about disenfranchising the fringes of society. It takes a lot of effort for people – except for the privileged – to vote” said Lisa Vandyke, a South Minneapolis resident, who has advocated in the past to inform people of their voting rights.

Many shared Ellison's concerns about the costs associated with implementing the measure.

Some at the forum saw the voter ID measure as a naked political ploy.

New Hope resident David Pearlman said the ballot question’s language would be more accurate if it instead read:  “Shall the constitution be modified to make it more difficult for Democratic voters?”

Richard Quill August 08, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Emily, I honestly believe you are missing the whole picture here. The problem is Gov. Dayton did not respect the law as passed by our House and Senate (which had the support of the majority of Minnesotans) by refusing to sign it into law which necessitated putting it on the ballot as an amendment. This is political ramrodding (as you put it) to further his and his party's ideology and disrepect for the majority of their constituents position on the matter. Remember Obamacare? Same thing there and look at the backlash across the nation over that. As for making the same-sex marriage recognizeable under Minnesota law and doing it by way of a Constitutional amendment. The liberals/progressives in the state are making a last ditch effort to get their way by putting it to a vote by the people since they have not been able to get enough support by either house to pass it as a law. You might say they are kind of using a double-standard here. You're right. You don't know me. Let me sum myself up for you. I'm 54, retired military, non-union (got schooled by them in their work ethics in the 70's), GOD fearing and believe the bible is the definitive reference for how to lead our lives and treat others. I was raised in a small town in central Mn during the 60's and 70's where I learned an honest day's work for an honest day's paycheck and to always do your best work and to take pride in whatever you do. Fact is, my issues and my life ARE on the ballot. To be cont'd.
Richard Quill August 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I love and believe whole-heartedly in the principles that America was founded upon. i.e. Free-enterprise, Capitalism, and our inalienable GOD given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With the deteriorization of the moral fiber and ethics in the past few decades we are on the cusp of losing everything America has stood for along with our freedoms and right to live as we please. This year's election is truly the most important in our Nation's history and we are truly at a fork in the road where we either choose a path of evil and Socialism or a path towards restoration and what America was originally all about. If the wrong path is chosen, don't come whining to me when they begin to dictate how you live every aspect of your life and everything you have worked so hard for is confiscated by the government. That is the real Hope and Change Obama was talking about in 2008. People just need to really listen to what he says and then read between the lines. Think about what his words mean from a Socialist standpoint and it all makes sense. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on life under Communist Russia and Hitler's Germany. I don't know how old you are but up until the 70's, world history textbooks in our public school system gave quite a stark comparison and look into life under those forms of government. Now, students are lucky if they are even taught what Paul Revere shouted on his now famous midnight ride.
Emily B August 08, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Richard - I, for one, believe a governor has every right to veto bills, just like they do every year, in every state across the nation. Contrary to what you seem to be suggesting, a governor doesn't have to sign every bill that comes across their desk, many times because they DON'T believe that a bill represents a "majority" or if it does, it might do a huge disservice to the minority. It's called "checks and balances." Though, If a governor did have to sign every bill, we might never have political stalemate or division because people would actually be working across party lines. Also, to clarify, the amendment on marriage is to NOT allow same-sex marriage by defining marriage as one man and one woman, so I'm not sure what you're talking about. If this amendment passes, it will be a LOSS for advocates of same-sex marriage. On that note, don't feel the need to keep responding on my account. Clearly, it is not that I don't see the whole picture or that you don't see the big picture, we see completely different pictures. And that is ok. If you want to have a discussion, we can, but thus far this seems to have mostly just been a repeat of many talking points.
Emily B August 08, 2012 at 06:51 PM
As to learning history, I acknowledge that my understanding of those eras is probably greatly lacking, however history books are FULL of crap. Not that they are all junk, but there is a lot of lies in a lot of the books. Take a look at what the fine educators in Louisiana are trying to teach now... that US slave owners were kind and treated their slaves well. Because we all know that OWNERSHIP of another human being is definitely right and good. On that note, I hate to do this, but I just can't get sucked further in to this argument today, as I have so many times before. I appreciate that you and I have very different understandings of our history, views of our present and hopes for the future, but I'm sad to say that when folks get in to calling our president a socialist and how much it is like Communist Russia, my eyes just kind of glaze over. People did the same thing with Bush in office and its all just rhetoric that gets us nowhere. It is the same kind of fear that McCarthy used to scare people in to hating their neighbor and I just can't buy in to that.
Candace Oathout August 10, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I can't believe that Keith Ellison has so little faith in the ability of his constituents to seek the empowerment that comes with becoming the active responsible person that getting a valid ID or driver's license entitles you to be. Why would anyone choose to be restricted to only using available transit, not having a bank account, or not being able to buy an alcoholic beverage? How do people access Social Security disability without proving who they are? How does someone in this day and age apply for a job without a valid ID? It would seem that instead of fighting to keep his constituents living in the shadows, he should be welcoming a new opportunity for them to establish the necessary identification to put them on the road to success as a responsible, productive resident of Minnesota.

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