ST. PAUL, Minn. - The growing campaign to oppose the voter photo ID amendment to Minnesota's state constitution introduced four prominent co-chairs at a news conference June 26. They represented all three of Minnesota's major political parties: Democrat Walter Mondale, former U.S. Vice President, Republican Arne Carlson, a former state governor, and the Independence Party's Tim Penny, a former Democratic U.S. congressman.
Longtime civil rights activist Josie Johnson joined them as co-chairs of the "Our Vote Our Future" coalition.
The Minnesotans' campaign against the voter ID scheme, which the Republican-run state legislature sent to this fall's ballot, is one of many such drives unions and their allies are mounting nationwide against such laws. The Minnesota AFL-CIO is a key part of the state's drive against the voter ID initiative.
So-called "Voter ID" laws are designed by their business and right wing backers to cut turnout by women, minorities, workers, students and the disabled - all foes of the pro-corporate agenda those interests are pushing nationwide.
"Minnesota doesn't have a voter problem," Mondale said. In the 2008 U. S.
Senate and 2010 gubernatorial recounts, he noted, "There wasn't one suggestion,
one hint, one whiff of a problem in the casting and processing of ballots. This constitutional amendment is designed to discourage voting. It's not designed to fix a problem - because there isn't one. "
"Frankly, it terrifies me," said Carlson, denouncing the amendment. "Where does this constitutional amendment come from? A problem? Research? No. It comes from the Koch brothers," he said. The Kochs are right wing oil multi-millionaires bankrolling political campaigns nationwide. "This is an outside force, coming to Minnesota, telling us how our constitution ought to be designed," Carlson added.
"The constitution is about expanding our rights and opportunities, not restricting our rights and opportunities," said Penny. "The implications of this will be fraught with problems and inequities. It's going to pose problems for our military personnel, for seniors, for rural voters, for students."
Carlson noted that the amendment would end Minnesota's same-day voter registration, which enables 500,000 people to vote. Not so long ago, people died in the struggle for the right to vote, civil rights activist Johnson noted. "I urge every Minnesotan to vote no on voter ID on Nov. 6."
Photo: Collin Knopp-Schwin // CC 2.0