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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How Voter Restriction Would Impact My Brother Abroad

This November, Minnesota voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to require all eligible Minnesota voters to show a valid photo ID with their current address before voting. For many Minnesotans, this may seem like a simple, straightforward requirement. You simply have to show the election judge your driver’s license when you arrive at the polls. No problem. However, a large number of eligible voters can’t physically come to the polls and voter ID’s impact on them is ambiguous at best.

This is where voter ID gets personal for me. My brother currently works for the US government in a position which requires him to live and work abroad. Although he doesn’t physically live in the United States, he is a US citizen, a US taxpayer, and a legal resident of the state of Minnesota, as his legal address is my parents’ home in Moorhead. He could even hypothetically meet voter ID requirements, as his valid driver’s license lists his current Minnesota address. However, Minnesota’s proposed voter ID amendment may end absentee voting as we know it. Although the amendment isn’t incredibly specific on this issue, it does state that “all voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cost and counted.” Clearly, voter ID will have some sort of impact on absentee voters and I would be surprised if the “substantially equivalent verification” the legislature adopts can be easily implemented from abroad.

Simply put, the passage of voter ID could deny my brother the right to vote, simply because he has chosen to work for our government abroad. There are thousands of Americans in a similar situation, including government employees, deployed military personnel, and Peace Corps volunteers. It seems horribly unfair to deny these individuals who are serving our country the ability to vote. Please truly consider the full impact of this constitutional amendment before voting this November. And please vote NO.

Margaret Worman, Macalester MPIRG Student Board Representative

Click HERE for more information on the voter restriction amendment

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