As we near Tuesday, November 6, 2012, we hear from many sources how important this election is. From the President to other elected officials, we as citizens will be making leadership choices that could affect many issues that are important to us. In Minnesota, we will also decide on whether to add two amendments to our State Constitution.
The marriage amendment asks for a strict definition on marriage, it is not making same sex marriage legal. Of even greater importance to me is the amendment that would require every voter in Minnesota to show photo identification to cast a ballot in all elections. For myself, I find this to be a destruction of our civil liberties with a potential of silencing many members of our society.
This is what you will see on your ballot when you vote in Minnesota:
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”
On the surface, many people I have spoken to think, “What’s the big deal?” I will try to explain why I am so against this amendment.
The first thing that should make all of us nervous is the word “free”. How often does anything provided by our government come without a monetary cost? The truth to this is that it will not really be free. The taxpayers of Minnesota will pay “something”, but what that something is remains to be determined. It could be miniscule, but it could be astronomical. So how much are you willing to “pay” to vote? This smells like a poll tax which is unconstitutional according to the 24th amendment to the United States Constitution. And if you are still not sure, take a look at Indiana. Indiana has approved a similar amendment to their constitution. It was initially believed to have a total cost to the taxpayers of Indiana of $700,000. But the final cost has not been determined. Current cost is at an estimated TEN MILLION dollars, and growing. So, how much will you be willing to pay in additional taxes, just to be able to vote?
Consider the current state of our society. We have many students, elderly people, and many who have now lost their residences because of foreclosure. We have many more who move from place to place very quickly, sometimes changing their address more than four times in a year. Many people in these situations currently do not have a valid ID. Should these people lose their right to vote?
There are many other arguments and issues that can go along with this, and I can certainly appreciate wanting to make sure that our votes are counted and each person only votes once. But there is no proof that rampant voter fraud is occurring. For example, the election results of 2004 in Ohio found a potential voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. With voter fraud carrying a fine of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine, the idea of casting one additional vote with that penalty really is not very feasible. This becomes a solution in search of a problem.
Many of our members are veterans of the military, or have family or friends currently serving in our nation’s armed forces. As a veteran, I remember very well the oath I stated when I entered into serving. One of the things I swore to protect was the right of EVERY citizen to vote in our nations elections. When a military ID is not good enough for a person to vote, I honestly do not feel this is a very good law.
To close I want to remind all of you that voting is a right. As citizens, we need to protect those rights. Not just for ourselves, but for those among us who cannot protect that right. If we give up, or put in any type of restrictions to our right to vote, what right will you be willing to give up next? Your right to a lawyer? Your right to free speech? Your right to life? Be careful, your rights are precious and if taken, they will be very hard to get back.
I have voted in every election since 1976, and I am proud of my involvement in the process. But it frustrates me that I may be seeing my right to have a voice in my democracy taken from me. I will not allow my vote to be taken from me.
When I look at a constitutional amendment, I think of it as a good amendment if it appears to improve the lives of the majority of the citizens that it would affect. In the case of voter ID it will make it very difficult for many of our citizens to vote. So why do we want to limit our rights?
No matter which side of the issue you are on, I urge you to make certain to take the time to have your voice heard on Tuesday, November 6. Remember that the right to have a voice in the election is your Constitutional right. Do not let it be taken from you or infringed on!
Stay strong sisters and brothers, and as always,
SOLIDARITY TODAY! SOLIDARITY TOMORROW! AND SOLIDARITY ALWAYS…
IN ALL WAYS!