A bit of research would show voters just how unnecessary are the two amendments that will be on Minnesota ballots in the Nov. 6 election.
One of them, the ban same-sex marriage amendment, is ridiculously redundant because Minnesota already has a law barring same-sex marriage. In the enlightened, progressive State of Minnesota, legislators ought to be working to overturn that law, not trying to enshrine exclusivity or homophobic bigotry in the form of an amendment.
The other amendment – the one that would require every voter have a photo ID – is ridiculous because it is not only not needed, but it will prove to be extremely expensive to implement – as much as $40 million statewide, and maybe more. The trouble with this amendment is it sounds so reasonable, on the surface. Why not? Why shouldn’t every person be required to have a photo ID, for voting or for any other reason? But the trouble is, such an amendment is based on the most specious of reasons – that there is some kind of widespread voting fraud. Studies show quite the opposite. Voting fraud is about as rare as a snowfall in June. It’s virtually non-existent.
Photo-ID advocates are fond of saying that merely one vote can determine the outcome of an election. And that is very true, of course. Such advocates further ask what if that one vote is a fraudulent vote? Well, in that case, even if true, it’s just as possible a fraudulent vote was cast by someone with a doctored photo ID. Skewed voting results are most often caused by the sloppy handling or tallying of ballots by election workers – not by voter fraud.
We must ask ourselves: Why has this frenzied attempt to establish voter ID laws occurred in so many states? And why is the attempt especially frenzied in battleground states where the race between Obama and Romney is so close? Could it be voter-ID laws are really nothing but an attempt at voter disenfranchisement, a way to keep Democratic-leaning people away from the polls? Some election observers are convinced it is. Those who tend not to have photo IDs are mainly older people, students, Hispanics and Afro-Americans – groups of people who tend to vote for Democrats.
Many proponents of photo-ID laws are sincere, above-board people who are trying to make the election process one of pristine integrity. A noble goal. But those people may be doing more harm than good. That is because in this great country in which voting is the very basis of democracy, we should be working to make voting easier for everyone, not harder. If voting fraud were indeed rampant, this amendment might make some sense. But proponents have not shown evidence of much if any voter fraud, and if proof were there to be found, make no mistake, they would find it.
There is nothing more anti-American than those who would disenfranchise voters. It happened for such a long and evil time in the Jim Crow South in the form of poll taxes and literacy tests required of African-Americans. Are we going to have to struggle to get another Voting Rights Act passed by the U.S. Congress?
This photo-ID law is just another variation of that despicable tactic – wittingly or unwittingly keeping perfectly good people from their right to vote without hindrance, hassles or harassment. This amendment is a blot on our all-American reverence for voting rights, and every good, patriotic American should cast a resounding NO vote.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.