This is a guest post by Vic Rosenthal, Executive Director of Jewish Community Action. [Eds. Note: as of today’s publication, the Voter ID bill is currently before the Senate state government committee, and a similar bill has been introduced but not yet scheduled for committee in the House.]
Jewish Community Action has joined with many organizations to oppose legislation that would require Minnesotans to present a photo ID in order to vote in Minnesota.
The legislation being considered would place the voter ID requirement on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, thus bypassing the Governor and bringing it directly to the voters. Jewish Community Action opposes this legislation as voter suppression that would make is substantially more difficult for many Minnesotans to vote.
Last week at a press conference together with ISAIAH and Somali Action Alliance, JCA Board Chair Richard Chase spoke at a press conference. Here are a few excerpts from what he said:
“I am Rick Chase, with the privilege to serve as board chair of Jewish Community Action. I speak out today against the voter ID amendment because we in the Jewish community believe that:
- Legislators have real problems to solve, such as rising childhood poverty, foreclosures, and homelessness, not made up problems about voter fraud in a state with a highly successful voting system.
- The constitution should be to protect the disadvantaged and disenfranchised, not to create more disenfranchised. Our state constitution is no place for restricting any rights or anyone’s ability to vote. The constitution is set up to protect this right, not strip it away.
- The amendment discriminates against the poor and elderly who are the most likely to lack picture IDs with a current address and have difficulties obtaining the documents they need to overcome this barrier to vote.
- At a time when more and more people distrust politicians and government and fewer and fewer people vote, making voting harder makes no sense.
- It is a major step back, defiling the struggle of so many, including the Jewish community, for civil rights and the hard-fought victory to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
In sum, the voter ID amendment lacks a legitimate purpose, is fundamentally unjust, and has no rightful place in our voting rules and policies, in our laws and regulations, and especially as an unholy blemish on our Constitution.
JCA is urging its members to write to their Senators and Representatives urging them to oppose this legislation (click here to find out who represents you). Some of the most important reasons for opposing this legislation, and thus potential talking points in your letters, include:
- I am concerned about the lack of detail in the photo ID constitutional amendment. While many significant issues (such as protections for people with disabilities, students, and people in shelters or long-term care) were addressed in the bill passed last year, none of the protections for these populations are ensured in the constitutional amendment. Please do not pass a bill that does not guarantee protections for those populations who would be most impacted by altering the constitution in this manner. Ensuring the constitutional rights of Minnesotans is an area in which uncertainty around implementation is unacceptable.
- I am concerned that the constitutional amendment to require photo ID for voting will have the impact of eliminating Election Day voter registration in Minnesota. While this is not explicit in the bill, it is widely understood to be a likely consequence of passage. In fact, the main proponents of this constitutional amendment explicitly calls for the elimination of Election Day registration in their election reform priorities (Minnesota Majority-priority to require registration at least 30 days prior to an election). Election Day voter registration has been long heralded as one of the critical components in Minnesota’s election system contributing to our higher than average voter participation. This should be protected, not rejected