Keith Ellison on Voter ID Approval: "Today is a sad day for democracy"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Via City Pages:

Yesterday, the state Senate Local Government and Elections Committee approved a proposed voter ID constitutional amendment in a party-line 8-6 vote.

The amendment now goes before another committee before coming before the whole Senate. A companion bill in the House has not yet been scheduled for committee hearing...

...U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison was so outraged to see the amendment win its first legislative victory that he issued a harshly worded statement following yesterday's committee vote. Here's what he said, in part:

Today is a sad day for democracy. Earlier this afternoon, Republicans voted to turn our constitutional right to vote into a privilege. Minnesotans should be outraged...

... When it comes to civic participation, our nation has always moved in the direction of greater inclusion. We need to keep that tradition going, and a photo ID amendment would do nothing but restrict Minnesotans' constitutional right to vote.

Voter ID legislation won approval in both the House and Senate last year, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. With a constitutional amendment, supporters of the bill -- mainly Republicans -- can bypass the governor...

...The Minnesota Secretary of State's Office estimates the proposal would be a problem for about 215,000 current voters, primarily the elderly, disabled, students, and military personal -- all groups less likely to have a valid form of photo ID than a typical citizen.

John Harrington, D-St. Paul, characterized Republicans' voter ID drive as a solution in search of a problem.

"We're talking a microscopic number that could be charged, and I really urge you to seriously think about this," he said. "Why are we doing this? What is the need? What is the problem we're trying to solve?"

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