Vote 'no' until all our questions are answered on voter ID amendment

Vote “no” on Nov. 6 on the proposed amendment requiring state-issued voter IDs. Blatant political maneuvering should have no permanent place in Minnesota’s Constitution. As the rheotoric ratchets up as the election nears, what does the voter ID amendment actually say? While there has been a lot of discussion over the wording of the amendment titles between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a DFLer, not many of us have a good grasp on what the amendment actually states. A trip to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website gives the complete version of what the Legislature approved. The voter ID amendment proposal adds a (b) subsection to Section 1, Article VII, that states “All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.” “(c) All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.” The ballot question will ask: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photographic identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?” While that seems to be straight forward, it is anything but. There are a lot of details that need to be worked out before it becomes effective July 1, 2013, assuming the amendment passes. There is a whole lot of politicking going on over this amendment. So, if approved, how will the voter ID provision be implemented and how much more will it cost taxpayers to fund the changes? And what constitutes a government-issued photo ID? Is it a valid driver’s license, a corporate badge, a student ID card, or will entirely new photo IDs be issued to all of us? While we are at it, where is the proof that there is rampant voter ID violations in Minnesota to warrant such a major overhaul of voter requirements? And why is a constitutional amendment needed when legislative actions could have accomplished the same thing through a state statute? Minnesotans are being asked to alter the Minnesota Constitution. That is a permanent change for a situation that does not seem to warrant such drastic action. And voters are being asked to change the state Constitution without all the details being spread before them. Voters are being asked to “trust” that our leaders will get the right details in place by July 1. Would you buy a car without seeing it first? Or a house without ever stepping foot into it? So why should we approve a voter ID amendment when we do not know all the details or costs? The voters of Minnesota should look long and hard at this proposed amendment. Get your questions answered. If the answers are not available by Nov. 6, then vote no. If the situation warrants further review, then bring it back again when all the details are worked out. In the meantime, legislators, quit with all the politicking and do your job. Your job is to legislate, not make political end-runs with proposed amendments. — R.G.