>>Stop Voter ID! …continued

Stop Voter ID! …continued

A March 21 post on this website explained the Republican pushed Voter ID legislation aimed at making it more difficult for seniors, handicapped and poor to vote.  An Alert sent to Senior Caucus members asked they contact their legislators..

The following column by Senior Caucus Chair Don Bye appeared in the March 30, 2011 issue of The Lake County Echo and Pine Lake Journal,  www.pineandlakes.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

From the Left Hand Corner: Voting card requirement not needed

By Don Bye

Republican legislators are wasting legislative time by advancing a requirement that Minnesota residents must secure and produce a plastic ID card with a recent photo in order to vote. This additional requirement would apply to the many thousands who do not carry a current driver’s license or state ID card remember how offended we were by our history of southern whites invoking $5 poll taxes to inhibit black voting? Now we have a worse example right here at home.

The proposed voter ID costs money ($11 and up, to be renewed every voting cycle). It involves securing a photo of specified size and quality, time, travel, appearance, proof of birth, marriage and other legal name changes, changes of address and more. Thus, the requirement would be difficult for many, particularly seniors.

The apparent motivation is not to prevent illegal voting as much as it is to make it difficult for people of limitation to vote. It is aimed primarily at Hispanics and other recent immigrants of color, but proponents don’t dare say that, so they broaden the application of the voting prohibition to anyone who can’t readily produce a driver’s license or plastic state ID card.

It would really work against senior citizen voting, whether DFL, Republican or Independent. In Indiana, where Republicans are trying the same tactic, it was found that more than 16 percent of the senior population simply does not have a driver’s license or plastic identification such as our state ID card.

Sure, some of those 16 percent can or could get plastic identification, but why should they have to?

Both of my parents were very intent on voting and exercised that right with pride. My mother was one of the first beneficiaries of women’s suffrage in 1920 and, I believe, voted in just about every election until her death some 70 years later. She never possessed a driver’s license nor identification card, and in later years would have been physically unable to get one without considerable assistance. Yet her mind remained sharp and she remained a conscientious voter.

Dad only missed voting in 1918, while serving in World War I in France and Germany, but thereafter voted right up to his death. He did not have a renewal driver’s license the last years, which was a sensitive subject, and most certainly would have been insulted if required to go through the proposed new ID process in order to vote. Yet, he was an informed and interested voter to the end.

Dad and Mom could and would have likely gotten their voter ID cards, if required, because yours truly and wife would certainly have assisted, and if we failed to do so, friends, neighbors or other family members would have. But what of the thousands who don’t have family and don’t have access to computers, transportation or other support to accommodate and comply with this unnecessary requirement?

Local Republican legislators admit that voter fraud is not a problem in central Minnesota. So why not tell the Republican authors of the several pending bills for our new version of a poll tax to “stuff it,” that they are not going to engage in the chicanery, nor tow the Republican line?

I don’t know of any of our local good Republican citizens who serve year after year as election judges who are arguing for the requirement. And what happened to our cost-conscious, less government, cut-the-budget “conservatives?” I’ve seen cost estimates nearing $100 million for the bills requiring electronic validating equipment in every polling place and $25 million for the version that does not. That does not figure in the costs of voters to comply, nor the cost to counties and election judges to implement.

C’mon Republicans! If anybody wrongly shows up to vote, the local election judges, Republican and DFL, will handle it fine. I don’t think many “ringers” will get by them. They don’t need more expensive equipment and rules and restrictions to enforce. Their days of community service are long enough as is.

C’mon, Legislature! January, February and March, which should have been “budget, budget, budget” are gone. The so-called business oriented, business friendly majority isn’t moving very businesslike.

The Legislature has more pressing and more important things to do than creating a costly and burdensome solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

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