The Minnesota House Republicans have brought forth a bill that, among other things, would require Minnesotans to provide photo identification in order to vote. You can view the bill in its entirety here. This is yet another attempt at discouraging people from engaging in the political process. This is detrimental to the low-income and youth voters of this state. Which is especially sad considering Minnesota is known for its high percentage of young voters, a percentage that will only decrease if this becomes law. The number of reasons why this bill should not be passed into law are numerous.
As I’ve already mentioned, this proposal disenfranchises voters. We already deal with an extreme case of apathy when it comes to engaging in the political process in this country. Making it more difficult to exercise, not only our right, but I would argue, our duty to vote is a huge mistake. With all of the rhetoric floating around about how our government is out of touch and unreceptive to the people, you think the sponsors of this bill would make it easier, not more difficult, to hold them accountable. Of course, the motivations become clear when you consider the types of voters this bill will discourage most.
The low-income and student voters this bill targets just so happen to support those on the opposite side of the aisle of those sponsoring this bill come election time. It is bad enough when laws are proposed blatantly attempting voter suppression, but this bill seems to be more about increasing a certain political party’s chances in the next election, than merely reducing the number of voters. The defense commonly used by advocates of this type of law is the “rampant” election fraud that plagues our elections in this state. This argument is not only untrue, but underscores the partisan nature of the bill as it is a subversive attack on current Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie (Which, considering his record of well-run recounts in his recent history, are completely unfounded).
Even if you ignore the hypocrisy of the law, from a purely financial standpoint, passing this bill is completely irresponsible. Implementing the policies needed to ensure this law’s success would cost the state millions. While the exact amount may not be certain, the simple fact remains, this job would only spend funds better used addressing the projected $6.2 billion budget deficit. For a party advocating fiscal responsibility and living within our means, this proposal seems quite ironic.
While the future of this bill is not certain, one thing is. Requiring voter identification will only further disenfranchise a group of people who have already suffered enough injustices in life. It is important we do not stand by and allow this ill-conceived notion to become a reality. We must engage our elected representatives at every opportunity and inform them we will not stand by as the right to vote is violated for so many Minnesotans. In other words, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, we must not go silently into that good night.