To the editor:
To many Minnesotans, including many of those responding to your recent online poll question on voter ID, requiring a photo ID to vote seems sensible. However, such a requirement could create big barriers that could keep many Minnesotans from exercising their legal right to vote.
The League of Women Voters of Minnesota estimates that 11 percent of our citizens currently do not have the proper photo ID that would enable them to cast ballots in an election, should photo ID laws become mandatory here. This is particularly true of seniors, people with disabilities, and students. An estimated 27,000 Minnesotans with disabilities alone lack the required ID - a figure greater than the entire population of Lyon County.
Getting an ID may seem easy, but it can come with significant costs. Some will need to find their birth certificate to get the ID. If they don't have a copy, they pay $26 to have one made - a significant expense if one has little extra money as it is.
If a birth certificate needs to be modified, it could mean significant legal fees - as may be the case for a Wausau, Wis., woman with a lifelong disability. She could incur more than $200 in court costs because her name on her birth record was misspelled and needs to be changed. If the office that provides photo IDs is not in your town, it could mean significant travel - as was the case for a Wisconsin couple who had to drive 45 minutes one way to the nearest DMV office and take unpaid time from work to comply with that state's voter ID law.
Stories like these could be multiplied by the thousands in Minnesota if photo ID is required. One should not have to pay a cost to vote. Let's protect our citizens' access to the polls, not throw roadblocks in front of them.
It is also important to note that recent Minnesota elections have shown that voter fraud is not a problem. In 2006, there were six alleged cases of non-citizens voting out of a total of 2,202,937 votes cast. In 2008, there were seven people who were alleged to have impersonated other voters; this was out of 2,921,498 votes cast, and none of the seven was convicted.
In the 2008 recount for U.S. Senate, lawyers for both candidates found no instances of voter fraud. (Sources: Citizens for Election Integrity, League of Women Voters Minnesota, MinnPost.com)