During the 2012 legislative session many members of the disability advocacy community opposed the legislature’s approval of a constitutional amendment to be placed on this fall’s ballot to require all MN voters to present photo ID. Despite our collective efforts, the following question will most likely appear on the November 2012 ballot for Minnesota voters to decide on:
“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?”
At first glance the typical voter may not find the above question harmful or unreasonable. However, for Minnesotans with disabilities, the passage of this amendment may significantly impact their ability to participate in the election process (specific concerns for the disability community can be found below).
MN-CCD plans to continue its opposition to voter photo ID and will work to educate the public about the impact of this proposed change on the disability community. If you or the organization you work with also opposes voter photo ID, please consider joining the efforts of “Our Vote Our Future”. Our Vote Our Future is the statewide ballot initiative campaign to defeat the restrictive photo ID amendment that will appear on Minnesota’s November 2012 general election ballot. They are a broad campaign of individuals and organizations from across the state – including rural organizations, non-profits, faith-based organizations and community groups – united against this amendment. Our Vote Our Future is working to educate and mobilize Minnesota voters to vote NO on the photo ID amendment in order to ensure the voting rights of ALL eligible, law-abiding Minnesota voters aren’t taken away. For more information, visit their website.
Why Voter Photo ID laws could create unnecessary barriers for disability community and should not be passed:
- People with disabilities are one of several groups in our society that are less likely to have a state-issued photo ID. Based on conservative estimates, ten percent of voters with disabilities, or 27,000 Minnesotans with disabilities, do not have a state-issued photo ID (Sources: 2009 American Community Survey, League of Women Voters).
- Securing a photo ID could impose costs on people with disabilities, even if the amendment indicates that IDs are provided for “free.” These costs include travel to the appropriate county or state office, which in some cases are many miles from one’s home. Once there people would need to present documentation to prove their identity, such as a birth certificate, creating a host of additional barriers. There is a $26 state fee to retrieve a copy of one’s birth certificate in Minnesota. There are also individuals who do not have a birth certificate or may be unable to access it including individuals raised in an institution, individuals born in another state (who may not know where they were born nor have the means to retrieve a copy), or individuals born at home whose birth was never registered.
- Those in favor of amending the Minnesota Constitution note that photo ID is required for other important activities in life such as driving a car, cashing a check, or buying liquor. These activities should not be mistaken as fundamental rights. There are no constitutional protections for driving on our roads, using checking accounts or purchasing alcohol. Voting IS a fundamental right, protected in the constitution and in law, and central to everyone’s participation in our democracy.