Slow Wave Coming Ashore
One-by-one, the founding fathers, women, Native Americans, African Americans, and those convicted of felonies who have paid their debt to society have placed great value on their hard-won right to vote.
Since the Voting Rights Act, the electorate focused on exercising these rights; good government groups and state officials focused on voter registration drives, getting out the vote, poll watches, and eliminating barriers—from employers allowing workers leave time to eliminating issues with language and physical impediments.
Today, we are experiencing a sea change in voter rights. It’s not a visible tsunami but a strong undercurrent scooping up the debris of race, class, and even age discrimination. Good government advocates, like Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, are working hard building the retaining walls to hold back nationally directed surges from waves such as Minnesota’s voter ID amendment, aim to wipe out those whose vote might extend progressive policy.
Despite efforts from League of Women Voters, faith organizations, the AARP and the ACLU—even Jesse Ventura—the amendment has failed to set off major storm warnings among the general populace.
In addition to disenfranchising certain segments of our population, few Minnesotans realize the threat the states’ proposed photo ID amendment presents to same-day registration and absentee balloting.
Minnesota would join more than two dozen states with ID requirements, nearly half of which have been recently implemented at conservatives’ urging.
In truth this is not about voter ID but “electorate cleansing.” The effort is insidious, implicit, ubiquitous and amorphous. A serious probe of the depths of the well-orchestrated campaign exposes Minnesota as more of a pawn than a player. Showing an ID at the polls is not much of a bother for the have’s – until we see it as the tip of an iceberg that shuns the sunshine of an open process.