Once again, Minnesota Republicans — led by the inimitable Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka — are pushing a voter ID law ("GOP renews push for voter ID," Jan. 28). They hope to suppress the votes of people of whom they disapprove: the young, the poor, minorities, and so on.

They claim, of course, that they are motivated by "election integrity"; they haven't figured out how insulting that is to all Minnesota voters.

People take voting seriously. In every polling place I've ever been in, in every election, folks have been patient, respectful and apparently thoughtful. It is absurd to suggest that these voters — us — regularly plot devious schemes to tilt the results.

Indeed, the only voting fraud scandals of recent years have involved Republican operatives, like that doofus in North Carolina with his absentee ballot scam.

If Republican politicians believed in democracy, they would be pushing to protect our elections from Russian interference, not fraudulently trying to keep people from voting.

Bryant Julstrom, St. Cloud, Minn.

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As an 83-year-old consistent voter, I have trouble reconciling the thinking within the Republican Party concerning voter fraud. Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer held up federal funds that were to be used to strengthen our voting systems, and now Gazelka is calling for a photo ID vote. There seems to be a dichotomy in the thinking of the Republican Party.

I have been an election judge for many years and have not seen any attempt to vote incorrectly. It appears that the party is trying to create a cure for a problem that does not exist.

John Madden, Minneapolis


We can't just 'see how this works'

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, the chairwoman of the committee focused on election legislation, wants to leave the current laws regarding sending voter data to Minnesota's four major political parties as is, saying, "Let's see how this works in 2020" ("Limit voter data, Simon, DFL say," front page, Jan. 24). Thus, allowing private voter data to become nonprivate data long after this year.

This is much like fixing the barn door after all the animals have left the barn. Even though the primary election is currently underway, it's not too late to limit the damage to the voters of Minnesota. Enact emergency legislation to prohibit private voter data (name and address) from being put in the list of data sent to the major political parties. Then, let's see how that works.

Andy Westerhaus, Burnsville

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As a lifelong independent voter forced to choose a party ballot, I have requested early voting in the Minnesota primary. Like my parents before me, I have previously been unwilling to commit to any party. This year is different.

This year, I feel compelled to participate. Trump is no Republican — he's proven in three years that he has no allegiance to anyone but himself. It will be worth choosing a party, in hopes that any other candidate can send him back to the private sector.

Jenni Charrier, Wayzata

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I'm one of those people who will not be voting in the primary — what do you do if you're a "consistent life ethic" person? I believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. That means in addition to opposing abortion, I also oppose the death penalty, guns, war, sex and racial discrimination and other forms of hatred and violence in all its shapes and forms. Many people mistakenly believe that abortion is a conservative political issue — wrong! I am not even close to being a conservative. In fact, I have never felt comfortable with the Republican Party. And the Democrats? The last time I felt at home in that party was when Robert F. Kennedy was running for president.

I guess I will just have to wait until the general election to do my civic duty!

Kay Kemper, Crystal


War's downsides are legion

Traumatic brain injury is just another inconvenient scientific truth denied by too many leaders ("Pentagon: 50 troops suffered brain injuries in Iran strike," StarTribune.com, Jan. 28).

Yes, traumatic brain injury (TBI) varies in severity, but even mild TBI can lead to grave life diminishment. I share stories of two individuals known to me.

One was a physician. After a blast in Iraq, she picked herself up thinking — as so many do — "Thank God, I'm not hurt." Only later did colleagues intervene as they noticed her medical errors. Due to that blast, she can no longer practice medicine.

Another GI suffered an undiagnosed mild TBI while deployed. His impaired balance and risk assessment likely contributed to his domestic motorcycle accident. He's been left greatly impaired, with an even worse brain injury. His care is not covered by veterans benefits.

Sadly, there is reason to suspect the Department of Defense number of brain-injured is too low. Already by 2008, a Rand Corporation study reported that 320,000 individuals had suffered a probable TBI while deployed in the post 9/11 conflicts.

And yes, TBI is associated with a host of ills, including post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide and degenerative brain conditions. And yes, there is treatment for TBI, but it is extremely expensive, and most veterans do not receive it.

These truths are inconvenient to those who would like us to believe — contrary to the evidence of veteran disability claims — that going to war does not result in lifetime negative consequences for many of those sent.

Amy Blumenshine, Minneapolis

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Much more attention needs to be given and consequential action taken based on Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer's thoughtful and informative Jan. 20 column "MLK should inspire us to end our wars."

King's concerns are echoed by historian and activist Howard Zinn, whose 10th anniversary of death was commemorated Jan. 27. Both were critical of U.S. militarism and American exceptionalism, the latter being the belief that the U.S. is fundamentally freer, more virtuous, more democratic and more humane than other countries. Zinn, noted author of "A People's History of the United States," said in a speech: "War is terrorism. ... Terrorism is the willingness to kill large numbers of people for some presumably good cause. That's what terrorists are about."

The futility of war has been addressed in many ways by a variety of individuals and organizations over the past. One of the numerous points deserving to be highlighted regarding our war machine is that military spending creates fewer jobs than the same amount of money would have if invested for instance in education, health care or clean energy (according to Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs' regular publication under "Costs of War").

Reasons abound to rein in this country's out-of-control militaristic economy and imperial exceptionalism.

Kai Laybourn, Bloomington

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