"Minneapolis" Group Pushes for Photo ID Voting Requirement
There was a flurry of short stories in various metro media today on a group of "Minneapolis" activists pushing for a photo ID requirement in Minneapolis elections. Some of the stories did not even identify this "Minneapolis" organization, but a few did. As you can see here, this is a cooperative project between the Minnesota Voters Alliance and a group called, vaguely and innocuously enough, "Citizens for a Better Minneapolis." Who doesn't want a better Minneapolis, right?
There are a few holes in this story. The first is that the Minnesota Voters Alliance is suburban-based, right-wing organization whose main purpose has been, in my opinion, to oppose democratic empowerment of Minnesotans, mostly at the municipal level. They are the group that sued the City over the constitutionality of ranked choice voting and failed dramatically at the Supreme Court, handing the City an unambiguous ruling that ranked choice voting is indeed constitutional. They have long opposed nonpartisan primaries, wanting to have a Republican to vote for on every general election ballot. They are not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "Minneapolis" group.
So that leaves "Citizens for a Better Minneapolis." I take them at their word that they're a group of Minneapolis residents. However, it's pretty clear that they came into existence specifically for this antidemocratic ballot initiative. Here's my evidence: the Secretary of State's records indicate that their initial filing was exactly one week ago, 3/23/30.
On the other hand, at least they're trying to make it appear that this is a grassroots "Minneapolis" effort. The organizations behind the similar St. Paul and Duluth initiatives appear to just be the Voters Alliance and the anti-tax group Citizens for Responsible Taxation.
One other interesting note: the guest speaker at the kickoff event for their Minneapolis effort is Republican ex-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who lives in Big Lake and was thrown out of office by Minnesota voters in favor of pro-democracy SOS Mark Ritchie. Just for laughs, I thought it might be fun to figure out Kiffmeyer's level of support in Minneapolis. As far as I can tell she lost every single Minneapolis precinct in her reelection bid in 2006 by more than 10 points. Why would they choose her as their kickoff spokesperson?
Questions about the sponsoring organizations aside, what they want to do is profoundly antidemocratic and a terrible idea. This proposal will make it much harder for Minneapolis residents to vote, especially poor people, old people, young people who don't yet have a drivers' license. I say this as someone who has worked as an election judge in a precinct (2-10, to be specific) with a large population of elderly citizens who do not speak english as a first language and who do not have drivers licenses. This will make it harder for these residents to exercise their constitutional right to vote, but it goes beyond them. It will make it harder for everyone in Minneapolis to vote; longer lines, more inconvenience, less congeniality between voters and election judges. I am convinced that this is the proposal's actual intent. All of the arguments about "protecting" legitimate votes are a ruse. These organizations don't like it when Minneapolitans vote, because they typically don't agree with us on matters of policy.
I have one other question about the proposal, raised by Minnesota Voters Alliance spokesperson Andy Cilek in his interview with MPR. He states that "their plan would make photo IDs available to those who couldn't afford them." How? Does he pay for this out of the Minneapolis general fund? He clearly can't get his plan passed at the state level, so it's unlikely that they'll fund these IDs. So in addition to having to spend more on election judges, we'll also take on paying for poor people's IDs?
These "Minneapolis" citizens groups are welcome to spend their money and time putting this antidemocratic proposal on the ballot. I am confident that the actual voters of Minneapolis, in their wisdom, will see through the rhetoric and the "we're local!" smokescreen and vote this terrible idea down.