ADVERTISEMENT

Doug Mills, AP/NYT

Voter ID won't disenfranchise me

  • Article by: ELIZABETH MANSFIELD
  • September 24, 2012 - 6:57 PM

Will the photo ID amendment to the Minnesota Constitution suppress votes? Yes. It will suppress the votes of ineligible voters -- and I am all for that!

But wait, opponents say, what about the disabled people in Minnesota who can't be expected to measure up to their civic duty like the rest of us? Well, I would like to address that question because I am not one of "us."

I am one of "those" would-be voters who has had a chronic disability, multiple sclerosis, since I was 16. I recently spent five days in the hospital getting infusions that allow me to get around a little bit better. I am sometimes unable to drive.

So I know a little about what somebody who is handicapped and doesn't have an ID may need to go through to obtain one: She can do it -- especially, in my experience, with the help of the many Minnesotans who jump up to assist every chance they get.

Who are these politicians and political operatives spending millions of dollars to spread the view that handicapped individuals are crying out for special treatment that will exempt us from a simple burden we are proud to carry?

I, and I believe the vast majority of my peers, want to be seen by others as able to meet the special challenges God has given us, and to be happy to participate on equal terms with everyone else in the great Minnesota get together (not the State Fair -- the state elections).

A few months ago, I rented a Rug Doctor. You guessed it; I had to show my photo ID. You know what? I am just as interested in clean elections as I am in clean carpets.

I am tired of being used as a political pawn by opponents who I never hear express any concern over the integrity of our elections. They don't care about that. They say there is no problem, even though Minnesota leads the nation in voter-fraud convictions.

In the 2008 election, the hundreds of ineligible felons who voted would have been stopped if the state had in place a system for checking election-day registrants to see if they are felons whose voting rights have not been restored. Showing a photo ID would allow election judges to check databases to identify such ineligible voters, including noncitizens, on the spot, before they cast their ballots.

If opponents truly cared about those who might have a hard time getting an ID, they would be gathering up those people and helping them day and night to get one. Are they doing that? No. Instead, they are spending millions of dollars on lawsuits and advertising and activism to thwart the will of 80 percent of Minnesotans.

Other states have ID laws and don't have any problem. Provisional ballots are used in more than 45 states, and they take care of the situations where someone doesn't have an ID on election day. Their ballots are held in envelopes for a few days until they identify themselves, and then the ballots are counted.

There is a saying: "Put up or shut up." That's what I say to opponents who have not been able to identify one person who will be unable to vote if there is a photo ID requirement. In Indiana, a court noted that the people suing to stop photo ID there did not present evidence of even one person who was prevented from voting. Since those who are against this reasonable protection for our elections have not "put up" -- well, you know the rest.

I am tired of being demeaned by photo ID opponents, who are exaggerating and misleading in order to further their political ends.

-----------------------

Elizabeth Mansfield, of Isanti, is a volunteer at the Minnesota Voters Alliance.

© 2014 Star Tribune