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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Opinion: Mike Freeman's opinion piece on Voter ID


By Mike Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney

Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney
In my career as a politician, I’ve worked hard to reach out to all people in 
Minnesota, regardless of where they live or where they came from. I have
talked to people in every corner of this great state and I wanted everyone to 
take part in electing good people to our local, state and national
governments.

Most importantly, I wanted every eligible voter to cast a ballot. I knew that it 
was my responsibility, as the candidate, to win those votes. I
enjoyed that challenge, even when I lost. But I would never do anything to stop 
people from voting.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares that view of elections. The voter restriction 
constitutional amendment on the November ballot would make it
difficult for many people to vote. It would require everyone to show a valid 
state-issued photo ID with a current address, something never required
before. No exceptions.

This amendment, as written, would make it difficult, if not impossible, for our 
service men and women fighting overseas to vote in Minnesota
elections. The same is true of senior citizens, our newest citizens and young 
people. It would endanger same day registration.

It also will cost the state and local governments at least $50 million to 
implement, at a time when governments do not have a dollar to spare. That
means property taxes would have to be raised or services cut such as fixing our 
roads, maintaining our parks or enforcing our laws to pay for this
unfunded mandate.

There is no reason to add this additional burden on our taxpaying citizens. 
There is no voting problem for this amendment to fix. As the Hennepin
County Attorney, I am required by law to investigate any voting irregularities. 
I can report that we have clean elections in Hennepin County and, in
talking with my fellow county attorneys, I know that we have clean elections 
throughout Minnesota.

Election after election, we lead the nation in voter turnout. If you have ever 
voted, you know how wonderful the polling place is: neighbors chatting
with neighbors as they wait in line, signing your name to obtain your ballot and 
then claiming your “I voted” sticker. The 2008 and 2010 elections
were very closely scrutinized and there were very, very few problems. Most of 
the problems were human error.  None would be fixed by this voter
restriction amendment.

Quite frankly, the people behind this constitutional amendment, particularly 
those at Minnesota Majority, have made it clear that there are some types
of people they just don’t like. One of their other issues, according to their 
website, is cracking down on “illegal aliens coming to our country who
have no interest in becoming part of America. They are opportunists seeking the 
spoils of our success.”

In fact, back in February when the voter restriction amendment was debated in 
the Minnesota Legislature, Rep. Rena Moran of St. Paul held a news
conference to denounce a racially inflammatory image on a website run by 
Minnesota Majority. It showed an image of an African-American male dressed in
a black-and-white-striped prison suit, and a person dressed in a blue mariachi 
costume, alongside other outlandish Halloween characters including a
white-sheeted ghost, as part of the push for requiring photo ID to vote.

Moran said she was sickened by the image and said the voter restriction 
amendment was “a 21st Century Jim Crow law,” and the images were “nothing more
than scare tactics used to make sure people of color are further marginalized 
from public life.”

This is a tragically flawed amendment that would have great costs to taxpayers 
and make it harder for Minnesotans to cast their vote. And it is
championed by people whose motives cannot be trusted. That’s why I’m working to 
defeat this voter restriction amendment and I hope you will join me in
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