Students concerned about voter ID

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College students from throughout the state gathered at the University of Minnesota today to speak out against the voter ID constitutional amendment.

Students from public and private schools, along with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, shared said they were concerned the proposed requirement would make it harder for them to vote. Voter ID supporters contend the measure is needed to help prevent voter fraud. But Taylor Williams, student government president at the U of M, said he doesn’t believe there is any voter fraud. Williams also doesn’t want the cost of implementing a new voting system to divert funds from colleges and universities.

“We are a better investment than this law,” Williams said. “As a state, we have to ask ourselves whether it is worth spending so much money at a time when we’ve never needed it more on higher education on a solution that solves a problem that doesn’t exist.”

The proposed amendment would require all voters to present a government-issued photo identification to receive a ballot. Alex Kopel, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, said she’s concerned that she will no longer be able to use her private college student ID to prove her identity for voting.

“This amendment takes our simple and effective system and makes complicated and confusing changes for students all across Minnesota,” Kopel said.

A key voter ID advocate said the students were making faulty claims. Dan McGrath, chairman of the pro-amendment campaign organization Protect My Vote, said there’s no reason to believe the requirement will divert money from higher education. McGrath also said college students will still be able to prove their identity with a drivers license, and prove their residency with fee statements, housing lists or other documents listed in current law.

Specifics of what constitutes an acceptable government-issued ID would have to be spelled out by the next Legislature of voters approve the ID requirement.

“The objections from people that think that students will have more difficulty voting are completely false,” McGrath said.

  • richmensing

    The student is correct: “This amendment takes our simple and effective system and makes complicated and confusing changes for students all across Minnesota.” Not only does the amendment make it complicated for students, it makes it even more complicated for seniors who don’t drive and military personnel serving overseas. It introduces provisional balloting (think Florida) and it costs money (think increased local property taxes.) So if you think this amendment sounds OK, think again.

  • Jamie

    Indeed. I hope the opponents of this voter suppression amendment proposal will make a lot more loud noise about it in the next couple weeks. A lot of people don’t understand what the terrible consequences would be of passing this amendment. And they don’t understand that it is one piece of a nationwide strategy employed by right-wing extremists to suppress the Democratic vote.

  • Dana

    I’m not sure how this suppresses the Democratic vote. It isn’t aimed at one particular party. I think it is a practical solution to voter fraud. We all have to show our ID’s to drive, to enroll for college, to move into an apartment or do any type of bank transactions, to write a check, and don’t forget we must show our ID’s to buy alcohol. Where I live, it is easy and inexpensive to get a photo ID. Not sure what the big deal is.

  • Kevin

    I’m voting “NO”. The rare chance that there is voter fraud does not justify the expense and inconvenience of having to provide ID and it introduces a “letter of law” that will be interpreted and enforced by election officials that will further introduce another degree of uncertainty. As far as influencing an outcome, Voter ID amendment assumes the cheats all vote the same. My personal experience is that not all rules are enforced with the degree of common sense a practical person would assume. I once was looking to get my daughter a social security document which required a form from our County that needed to be taken to the Social Security Office (SSO) an hour away. Once I had the chance to make the trip, the SSO told me that I had the right form but since the County gave me a copy and not the original, they could not accept it. The County’s number was on the form and I offered a number of ID verification to prove who I was but still the SSO could not call to verify. Furthermore, to get an original copy it requires a court order. Overall, there were a number of barriers put in our way, many of which should have never existed merely because the system should have known the system and could have provided the documents necessary to proceed to the next step and at minimum allowed the system a way to communicate with itself rather than make the individual seeking its help to bare the burden of accountability when the power to be accountable rests with the system. KEEP IT SIMPLE, VOTE NO!

  • lily

    People supporting the Voter ID amendment may very well have valid concerns, but the solution is not to put it in the Constitution. Once it’s in there, all laws pertaining to voting have to comply with the letter of the amendment. And, the problem is that nothing about the implementation of the amendment is spelled out, which means there could be lots of unintended consequences that can’t simply be undone, since it’s in the Constitution. Why would we effectively vote on a law (really many laws) blind? Let’s have an open discussion and hash this out in the Legislature, so we all know what the fallout of voter ID will be, so we can figure out how much it will really cost, and if those costs are really outweighed by any benefits. With so much unknown, I just don’t understand why people are rushing to stamp it into our Constitution.

  • Shane Bargo

    Dana writes: “We all have to show our ID’s to drive, to enroll for college, to move into an apartment or do any type of bank transactions, to write a check, and don’t forget we must show our ID’s to buy alcohol….”

    That is correct but none of those are RIGHTS. They are privilages.

    While I agree a form of identifcation should be used, we shouldn’t group it into the “fraud prevention” category. Last I checked, felons can get a drivers license or an ID. Those ID’s do not say “felon” on them. So……….?

    Bottom line, this will cost money, taxpayer money. For a party of fiscal responsibility and “getting goverment out of our lives”, this, among many other issues this past session, raises some questions…….

  • Jamie

    Dana: “It isn’t aimed at one particular party. I think it is a practical solution to voter fraud.”

    Dana, it is most certainly aimed at one political party. This is one of many states’ attempts to suppress the vote — created by ALEC (right-wing corporate special interst group), and brought to state legislatures by Republicans because they know that the people who will have a hard time getting the acceptable ID are students, seniors, disabled peoople, poor people, and people of color, most of whom tend to vote for Democrats.

    They claim it is to fight voter fraud to make it sound like a good idea, but voter fraud is nearly non-existent, and the kind that does exist (something like 8 cases in Minnesota in the last decade) would not be prevented by voter ID. Your examples of having to show IDs do not apply to many people. Just pay attention to the news — there have been many stories about people who would have a very difficult time getting a photo ID.

    You have to look beyond the simplistic, misleading messages from those who are proponents of this dangerous amendment.