Hoping to build opposition to the proposal to require Minnesota voters to show an approved photo ID, a group of African leaders in the Twin Cities northwest suburbs held the first in a series of meetings Tuesday night.
The forum, which drew about 50 people, was held at the Brooklyn Park City Hall and organized by the African Immigrant Services, Think Again Minnesota, the League of Women Voters, and TakeAction Minnesota.
"We want to provoke a conversation. We want to start here," said Abdullah Kiatamba, executive director of African Immigrant Services.
He said Tuesday's meeting will be followed soon by another meeting with local Latinos, Asians and other minority groups who could face barriers to voting should the ID proposal pass.
Last month, the Minnesota Legislature voted to approve a constitutional amendment proposal on this fall's ballot that would require voters to show a photo ID, create a new system of "provisional balloting" and end election day "vouching" for voters without proof of residence.
The issue now is headed to voters to decide on Nov. 6 when general elections are held. Republican legislators in favor of requiring voters to show a photo ID have called it a common-sense measure to tighten up Minnesota's voting system and verify voters' identities. DFLers opposing the amendment have argued the requirement would do more harm than good. They say it wouldn't prevent the small amount of election fraud, but it may prevent certain voters from exercising their right to vote.
Kiatamba says the goal is to build a coalition in the northwest suburbs to build momentum between now and November.
Mohammed Dukuly, a Liberian immigrant and an imam at Masjid An-Nur in Minneapolis, said he is concerned about the intentions behind the requirement. "Why was this legislation passed? That's what we should be looking at," he said.
The Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center area is home to a large concentration of immigrants from Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and several other African countries.
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488