Voter identification potential form of modern discrimination
October 18, 2012
With the presidential election less than a month away, Minnesota residents have a number of decisions to make. Apart from selecting a presidential candidate, Minnesotans will also be voting on two potential amendments to the state constitution. The marriage amendment has been getting a lot of attention in the media, but the amendment that has been seemingly neglected is the voter identification amendment.
If passed, this amendment would require Minnesotans to present a government-issued photo identification card before they would be allowed to vote. While the effects of this amendment may seem minute, the truth is that this amendment comes at a price and would prevent a large group of citizens from voting.
There are many Minnesota residents who possess a driver’s license, and this form of identification would be accepted at the polls. However, there are just as many residents who do not have a driver’s license or any other government-issued form of photo identification who would need to pay money to obtain one.
The most obvious impact the passage of this amendment would have on Minnesotans is that taxes would likely increase. The state government could have to spend up to $50 million in taxpayer dollars in order to produce enough IDs to distribute to residents who do not currently have a government-issued ID.
In addition to producing the IDs themselves, more money would be required for the technology needed to read and register these identification cards at voting sites. Most would agree that taxes are high enough as it is, and voting “yes” to the voter identification amendment would only ensure that these taxes continue to increase in the coming years.
Once enough IDs are produced, Minnesotans will be responsible for paying the required amount in order to obtain them. The simple fact that these forms of identification would cost a significant amount of money leads us to the second consequence of this amendment: anyone who does not currently posses a government-issued form of identification or does not have the money to afford this type of identification would not be allowed to vote. This amendment is clearly discriminatory because it prevents an entire group of people from going to the polls. Passing this amendment would segregate a large group of Minnesotans by denying them the ability to vote: one of the most basic American rights.
Most importantly, there is no reason for this amendment to be passed because there is no significant or credible evidence that proves voter fraud is a problem in the state of Minnesota. The penalty for placing a fraudulent vote is a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a five-year prison sentence. Minnesota has 10 Electoral College votes, and these votes are given to a presidential candidate based on the results of the popular vote within the state.
The last time these 10 Electoral College votes went to a Republican candidate was in 1972 when Richard Nixon was elected to serve his second term. In a state that has been consistently Democratic for 40 years, it is highly unlikely that people would risk a hefty fine and prison time in order to place a fraudulent vote.
One of the greatest things about living in the United States is that as citizens, we are given the power to choose the people we want to lead our country. By passing the voter identification amendment, we would deny this right to a large group of Minnesotans. In addition to discriminating against those without government-issued photo identification, this amendment would put great financial strain on taxpayers.
Should the Minnesota state government spend millions of taxpayer dollars in order to regulate a nonexistent problem while discriminating against a number of its citizens? On Nov. 6, Minnesota residents will be given the opportunity to make this decision.
Morgan Stippel is a political science major and a professional writing minor. When she graduates from UW-River Falls, she wants to become a state prosecutor and specialize in domestic violence cases.