He served in the military, the MInneapolis City Council, the Minnesota Legislature and as state auditor and 37th governor of this state. But Arne Helge Carlson's birth certificate still says his name is Baby Boy Carlson -- and that, he said Monday, could make voting more difficult for him someday if a photo ID requirement becomes law.
Carlson is among four co-chairs of Our Vote, Our Future, the campaign aiming to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would require all voters to prove their identity with a government-issued photo ID card in order to receive a ballot.
Carlson, who will turn 78 in two weeks, has a valid Minnesota drivers' license. Presumably that piece of magnetized plastic would serve him in good stead if the amendment is enacted and a photo ID requirement is implemented beginning in 2013.
But if he would allow his license to lapse as he ages, that never-amended birth certificate back in New York City, could cause him trouble, he said. Presumably he would need that birth certificate to obtain a new government ID card -- though the 2013 Legislature would need to spell out the requirements, since the amendment does not. His birth certificate makes no mention of "Arne Helge." His parents, Swedish immigrants of modest means in the Bronx, never got down to City Hall to put the name they chose for him on his birth certificate.
"The problem with flawed birth certificates is a lot bigger than people think," Carlson said. If the amendment passes, he intends to look into what it would take to amend his at this rather late date.
As someone who knows his way around government red tape, that's a chore Carlson likely can handle and afford. But it won't be so for everyone who faces this problem and wants to vote, he predicted. Coming at a time when American democracy is already suffering from power residing in too few hands, it's why he considers this amendment "absolutely frightening."