Is it a raven or a crow? (
by Steve Timmer
Jun 13, 2012, 8:00 AM

Raven is to Crow

Matt Birk, Baltimore Raven and former Viking, will come back to town to “headline” a voter suppression event by Voter ID for MN. According to the group, it can accept both individual and corporate contributions. Isn’t that nice?

It isn’t surprising, of course, since both the the photo voter ID bill vetoed last year by Governor Dayton, and the constitutional amendment bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature this year are national-wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing ALEC’s pattern bills. You can read Common Cause’s Legislating Under the Influence at the link.

Meanwhile, the cost estimates for this Lollapalooza are beginning to come in.

Politics aside, Ramsey County elections officials have a big concern about Minnesota’s proposed voter ID amendment on the ballot this fall: money.

Elections Manager Joe Mansky said that if voters approve the amendment, the county would have to spend up to $1.7 million to install polling place computers and educate voters about the photo ID requirements.

Meanwhile, cities would pay an additional $200,000 for elections judges, ballot boxes and training, Mansky told county commissioners Tuesday, June 12.

This does not include the cost of supplying the “free” ID to voters, nor the cost to those voters of getting the paperwork necessary to apply for one: certified birth certificates, court certified name changes or divorce decrees, naturalization papers, etc.

Statewide, Common Cause estimates the cost $68.5 million in the first year, if adopted. Again, not including the cost to individuals of assembling the paper work and the time and expense of applying for the ID.

For what? Here’s what Mansky reported about voter “fraud” in Ramsey County:

In a 19-page staff report, Mansky informed the board that over the past six years [emphasis added], 1,549 cases of possible voter fraud were referred to the county attorney’s office for investigation, but most were declined by prosecutors or found to lack probable cause to be assigned to an attorney.

In all, 123 people were charged in Ramsey County. Of those, 102 felons actually voted. One noncitizen registered and voted; 114 were found guilty, while nine had their cases dismissed.

There are 390,000 eligible voters in Ramsey County.

“For a lot less money, you could authorize the sheriff to go out and personally call each felon and say, ‘If you vote next November, I will personally put you in prison,'” Mansky said.

Felons’ civil rights are restored when their sentence, including any parole time, has expired. But apparently, a felon doesn’t get much advice about this from prison officials. A better education program — or restoring civil rights on release from physical incarceration, as Utah has done — would be far simpler than putting the whole state through the wringer of photo voter ID. (The Secretary of State’s office estimates that 700,000 voters will be affected by the amendment in Minnesota.)

Since that is so obviously true, and as Mansky says, photo voter ID is a pricey solution in search of a problem, there has to be something else afoot. It is, of course, the disenfranchisement of swaths of people: the elderly, the homeless, people who move frequently, students, the disabled, disproportionately minority communities, and others. And it is the crippling of a very good, probably the best, voting system in the nation. The reason ALEC is interested in photo voter ID is that it cuts down on that pesky democracy that stands in the way of implementing its corporate agenda.

In order to pull this off, Paul Udstrand says that the Legislature is proposing a giant bait and switch; here’s the question that should, he says, be on the ballot:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present
valid photo identification on election day, abolish same day voter registration, vouching, absentee ballots, create an entirely new system of “provisional” ballots,  and provide free identification
 to eligible voters?”

The bait and switch case — which persuasively can be called the real voter fraud here — will be heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court on July 17th.

The subject of photo voter ID was the subject for the entire hour of the inaugural edition of the LeftMN Radio Hour.

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