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Joey Ivansco, Mct - Mct

Case for voter ID is based on misdirection

  • Article by: CHUCK SAMUELSON
  • November 9, 2011 - 8:18 PM

Counterpoint

On Nov. 8, the Star Tribune published a commentary by Dan McGrath that depicted Minnesota as a haven for those bent on voter fraud ("Ellison would export loose voting laws").

This from the mouthpiece of Minnesota Majority, a group whose articles of incorporation specifically state that it has no members and whose donor list is in the low single digits.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is right in promoting Minnesota's system of voting, one of the cleanest and most transparent in the nation. But McGrath plays loose with the truth.

So in the interest of Minnesota fair play, humor me while I lay out the facts.

First, there were indeed approximately 140 ex-felons convicted of voting while on parole. However, that number included no people convicted for impersonating a voter -- the crime that voter ID purports to stop.

In fact, 99.995 percent of those who voted in the 2010 election were not accused of wrongdoing in any manner. That is a level of product quality that would make any quality-control director proud.

Also, the logical fix to felon voting is to provide them notice when their rights are restored, or even to let people vote who are not in prison.

Second, McGrath states that voter ID laws have been upheld as constitutional when challenged. Untrue. The voter ID law in Missouri was overturned as unconstitutional in 2006 (Weinschenk vs. State).

Third, he refers to federal litigation over the Georgia law, saying that the judge upheld the law after hearing the evidence. Wrong again.

In the first case, the judge temporarily halted implementation of the voter ID law because the state hadn't had time to educate people about the changes.

In the second case, six months later (after the election), he denied a permanent injunction because the state had provided generous voter education. The judge had already heard the evidence in the first trial.

Fourth, McGrath writes, "Most states employ provisional ballots so voters not verified by the normal registration process still have to be verified before their ballots are actually counted ..."

Oops -- there are no unverified voters allowed in Minnesota. Voters who register on Election Day must present evidence of who they are and where they live. Falsifying that evidence is a felony under Minnesota Statutes 201.054.

The Minnesota Majority is purportedly concerned with the 140 felons who voted while out of jail but still on parole. My organization, the ACLU, is concerned with the 1-million-plus who didn't vote in 2010.

Ironic that a group that labels itself the majority spends so much energy on a minuscule few who are eager to join the mainstream while ignoring the millions who stay home on election day.

This proposed requirement, asking registered voters to show a current Minnesota drivers license, ID card or voter ID card, would immediately disenfranchise more than 100,000 voters.

The law does give voters some hoops they can jump through to regain their ability to vote, but not everyone is up for gymnastics.

Take, for example, Tennessee, where voter ID has become the law, Dorothy Cooper, 96, has voted in every election except one during her adult life. When she went to her driver's license station to obtain an ID to vote, she was denied.

While she had an original copy of her birth certificate and numerous documents to verify her address, she lacked a copy of her marriage certificate.

McGrath and all others, including the ACLU, have the right to express their opinions. You can check the sources for our facts at our website, www.aclu-mn.org.

None of us has the right to our own facts. If McGrath wants to make his points, he should do it the hard way -- with the whole truth.

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Chuck Samuelson is the executive director of ACLU-MN, the Minnesota affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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