A Solution in Search of a Problem: Voter ID
The Voter ID bill, now moving through the Minnesota legislature—with the threat of a constitutional amendment—is, as many have already pointed out, a solution in search of a problem. Minnesota does not have a voter fraud problem and proponents of the bill cannot prove a problem exists. More significantly, this legislation it is part of a pattern of Republican bills and initiatives designed to limit turnout among the young, elderly and communities of color all of whom are less likely to have current state issued ID. It is undemocratic, bad policy, adds to the state deficit, and is bad for Minnesota.
On March 15, 2011, prize winning University of Wisconsin historian William Cronon, posted an essay on his personal website, Scholar as Citizen entitled, “Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here)”
Cronon detailed the history of an organization called, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Founded in 1973 by Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett, and Paul Weyrich, its principle mission is to provide model legislation to conservative law makers. Among their massive list of model legislation are a “Voter ID Act,” a “Resolution to Align Pay and Benefits of Public Sector Workers with Private Sector Workers,” and a “Super-Majority Act” that would require super majorities to raise taxes. The Minnesota State Chair of ALEC is Representative Mary Kiffmeyer, the principle author of the Voter ID Act. You can access the areas that ALEC advises Republican legislators on at alec.org
As the ALEC website points out however, if you want to read the model legislation itself, you must join as either be an elected official (dues are $100 for a two year term or $200 for a four year term) or fork over $7,000, $12,000, or $25,000 for a “Private Sector Membership.”
Voter fraud resulting from people impersonating legal voters is not a Minnesota problem, and I doubt it is an American problem. It is part of a conservative agenda that opposes democracy and thrives on division to accomplish its larger goals of starving the public sector while enriching those at the very top of our society who do not need the public services they are committed to cutting. We do not need a Voter ID Act that will actually cost the state money. What we need is a balanced approach to solving the state’s budget problem and sufficient revenue to get the state back on a solid fiscal footing.