A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Minnesota Supreme Court hears Photo ID Arguments

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th United States President

Yesterday afternoon the Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case over the upcoming Voter ID Amendment question on ballots this November. The ballot question is to be presented to voters as follows: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"  Voters can choose yes or no, however, the hidden ramifications of this amendment make this question a confusing one to answer. 

The misleading nature of the question is exactly what has Minnesota’s Justices, voters, and groups like the ACLU concerned.  What the ballot question doesn’t tell voters is that the actual amendment language requires that a “valid photo ID” must be government-issued. A student voting on this question could easily assume that their student ID card would qualify, and yet the amendment language itself indicates this is not the case. To put it simply, the amendment jeopardizes the democratic system as we know it, putting students, the elderly, the impoverished, the military, absentee voters and anyone who moves frequently at risk for not having their voice heard.

“The right to vote is an institutional way to peacefully revolt,” remarked a very concerned Justice Paul Anderson, “…it doesn’t get much bigger than this.”  A final decision on the clarity of the ballot question and the constitutionality of the Supreme Court’s ability to alter it will be made in a few short weeks, just in time for ballots to be prepared for voters. 

The language of the question is misleading and therefore should be taken off of the November ballot.  Other than that, the only way to ensure everyone’s right to vote is protected is to VOTE NO on November 6th and mobilize our peers to do the same!

Written by Emily Larson - University of Minnesota Twin Cities

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