Over the past few months, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has initiated a variety of electoral reforms in Minnesota. He has been in the news recently because of his work to implement online voter registration, bypassing the political gridlock of the state legislature. The system was used by nearly 1,500 people in its first month.
Today, the Michigan legislature is holding a hearing on the Safe and Fair Elections Initiative that would restrict community-based voter registration, require photo IDs, and require voters to answer a citizenship question in order to vote.
The Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill yesterday that will place on the November ballot a voter ID referendum that would amend the state constitution and threaten Minnesota’s standing as the top state in the nation for voter turnout. The ballot language deceptively avoids informing voters of key changes to the constitution that will keep many Minnesotans from voting and adds unnecessary costs to the voting system.
As we examined the Texas voter ID law last week, the numbers made clear that when it comes to voter records, some states need a good spring cleaning. For those of us who have grown up with computers, the solution seems simple. Modernization of voter data and registration information could lead to numerous changes which would have extreme upsides for individual states, as well as voters and the nation as a whole.
When defenders of voter ID laws stand up and say that the regulations protect their citizens and our democracy, there’s more than one lie being told. First, rather than protect our democracy, voter ID laws actually disproportionally affect the rights of elderly, working, student, and minority voters. Second, the laws, which are aimed at curbing the yet-to-be-seen problem of “voter fraud” will actually cost tax payers millions and millions of dollars to implement. Taking a look at the numbers shows a side of voter ID laws that their supporters fail to mention.