Arne Carlson | LeftMN photo
by Steve Timmer
Sep 16, 2012, 11:30 AM

“Baby Boy” Carlson III

You can read part one and part two at the links.

Part one was discussion of Lori Sturdevant’s post on Minnesota Matters about Arne Carlson, one of the chairs of the Our Vote, Our Future campaign (which opposes the photo ID for voting) and the fact that Carlson has a birth certificate that says “Baby Boy” Carlson.

Sturdevant assumes that it won’t be a problem for Arne as long as he has his driver’s license. Not true, since Carlson undoubtedly got his driver’s license before you had to show a birth certificate (which is not a photo ID, by the way) to get one, so he (and I) will have to get a new one if we want to use it as a voter photo identification.

If we aren’t required to get one and are permitted to vote anyway, we’d be subject to eligibility criteria that would not be “substantially equivalent” (they’d be easier) to the ones that people required to show one are. You will recall that “substantially equivalent” is the language in the proposed amendment that when pressed to define, Mary Kiffmeyer — ALEC-ian numero uno in the state, where this amendment came from in the first place — famously said, “Well, it’s equivalent . . . substantially.” Swell.

Part two was an explanation of how to amend — or try to — a birth certificate in Minnesota. Read the story, or accept the executive summary: Franz Kafka wrote the procedure.

After that 230 word introduction, we come to the subject for today.

Last Sunday, a story by Jim Ragsdale was published in the Strib outlining how the amendment requiring photo identification to vote would disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and students. It’s a sobering piece of work, highlighting some some of the 217,000 persons that the Secretary of State’s Office estimates will be affected by the amendment. Many of them fall into the category of former governor Carlson: no birth certificate or substantial obstacles to getting one, or a birth certificate that is incomplete or in error. It’s worth a read.

But there is one breezy, facile and mendacious quote by Mary Kiffmeyer in the Ragsdale article that deserves special attention:

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, the amendment sponsor, said the government would offer free IDs, and that the availability of waivers for those without underlying documents and adaptations of current law by the Legislature could address problems [emphasis added] without disenfranchising anyone. The general language of the amendment, if it passes, would be fleshed out by the 2013 Legislature.

Kiffmeyer was also the sponsor of a photo identification requirement bill the session before last that was vetoed by Governor Dayton (the bill that hit the governor’s desk was actually the Senate bill, sponsored by another great civil libertarian, Warren Limmer, but the bills were similar). The bill did not contain express provisions for waivers of proof of a citizenship or helping the people such as the ones in Ragsdale’s article, or even governor Carlson.

So it is disingenuous — to put it charitably — for Kiffmeyer to now say, Don’t worry, old people and poor people; we’ll take care of you. Fat chance of that if the Republicans are in charge.

And given the “substantially equivalent” language discussed above, the Legislature probably could not even help — constitutionally — if it wanted to. A waiver for me, but not for thee? How do you decide?

How would we decide who would get a waiver, anyway? Minnesotans of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry? Certainly! Brown people? Not so fast!

And by what process? Would you have to apply for an amended birth certificate first and fail? How many times? Before whom would you have to appear to apply for the waiver, a notary public, the DVS, a judge, or maybe a politically-appointed voting czar?

How long would it take? It takes the MDH a month currently to make a decision on amending a birth certificate — that time period will certainly lengthen if it is crushed with new applications. And remember, the clocking is ticking on your provisional ballot! Tick. Tock.

And what proof would be required or accepted, and how much discretion would the person or body making the decision have? If it’s the Minnesota Department of Health, lotsa luck, my friends, lotsa luck.

A vote for this amendment is a vote to throw your own right to vote into a cocked hat. Sooner or later, and by one process or another (and there are several), it will deprive you of you right to vote. I guarantee it.

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