Prior to 2003, Minnesota’s roads were the envy of the nation. Then, former Governor Tim Pawlenty’s “no new tax philosophy” led to little change in the gas tax, coupled with less gasoline consumed, and with little revenue available from the general fund, our ability to upgrade highways and bridges was crippled. Superficial road repairs became the norm.
On August 1, 2007, Minnesota endured a disaster that captured the nation’s attention. 13 Minnesotans died, as a 40 year old bridge collapsed while it’s traffic bearing surface was being replaced. Now, our Republican controlled legislature, still refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy , still works to downsize government, and is starving the Minnesota Department Of Transportation.
There is a eight mile long section of Hwy 73 south of Cromwell, that is a bottleneck for car and truck travel between Moose Lake and the Range. This vital link in our transportation infrastructure is not much more than an old township road, held together by corduroy in the swampy areas, with tar on top. There are no shoulders. If you drive off the blacktop in almost any spot along this section of road you run the risk of roll over. If you have a flat tire you must drive on it until you find a driveway to pull into. School children are at great risk as they are picked up for school, and this highway can be flooded in heavy rains. Economic activity in Western Carlton County is choked by this old section of road.
Over the years, numerous plans have been drawn up for a complete rebuild of Hwy 73, but other things just seem to be just a little bit more important. When MNDOT is asked now for a timetable for a upgrade, their reply is, “unknown since there is not available funding.” Still, the price keeps rising, and the latest estimates come in above $14million.
The Highway 73 rebuild is the number one highway project needed in House District 11A. Everyday that road is left in poor shape, a minor tragedy occurs in Western Carlton County. That tragedy is the loss of productive time and economic opportunity for residents in that area. Hopefully, a life-ending disaster will never unfold along Highway 73. Nothing should be more important than the economic health and physical safety of our residents! We need invest in poor rural areas too, we need to do better now, for all of 11A , and for all of Minnesota.
Statistically, voter fraud is non-existent.
The Republican Legislature claims that there are thousands of cases of voter fraud in Minnesota every election year. In 2008, for example, there were only 113 actual cases of voter fraud. These 113 illegal votes cast equals 4 hundredths of one percent of the 2.9 million votes all Minnesotans cast. This miniscule number of voter fraud cases does not vary much from year to year or from state to state.
Photo ID would not prevent most voter fraud.
Most of the people that were convicted of voter fraud were felons who voted even though their voting rights had been taken away. Photo ID would not have prevented any of these voters from breaking the law. A person’s criminal status is not on their driver’s license. There is no single piece of government-issued identification that includes a person’s criminal status. In 2008, Minnesota had no cases of voter impersonation, which is the only kind of fraud that a government-issued a photo ID could prevent.
Complying with Photo ID will be a challenge for over 300,000 Minnesota voters.
Many of us have a photo ID because we drive. However, if a person doesn’t drive, if you are a senior, if you are poor, or disabled, you might not have a photo ID. Mark Ritchie, the Minnesota Secretary of State says there are over 215,000 current Minnesota voters that will have to get a state photo ID if the voter ID constitutional amendment passes.
The amendment forces the state to pay for the cost of the ID, but does not take into account the cost of transportation for people to obtain a photo ID. It does not provide assistance for producing documentation, such as a birth certificate, that proves people are who they say they are. Plus, for the physically frail, the actual effort of an extra trip to go vote, may prove to be too much. A significant portion of those that will only need a photo ID to vote, will simply not be able to afford to get one, financially or physically.
Additionally, under the provisions of the amendment, thousands of construction workers and military personnel will have a more difficult time voting absentee, and Minnesotans who move frequently, (such as students) will have a more difficult time keeping their ID current in order to vote. Additionally, same-day registration and absentee ballots will result in a provisional ballot being issued that makes your secret ballot less secret. Also there is no guarantee that “provisional” ballots will be counted. Here’s a good link for more detail: http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=353
It is estimated that the cost to implement the provisions of this constitutional amendment will cost the state between $5 and $8 million. This comes at a time when the next state biennium budget is already short $4.5 Billion dollars. In addition to the state costs are local government costs, which will add even more millions of dollars onto the local property tax burden.
So, let’s recap.
We have an imaginary problem, and a proposed solution that doesn’t even address the imaginary problem. That “solution” will cost the Taxpayers millions of dollars that we don’t have, and the only thing we know for sure is that it will be a burden to well more than 300,000 Minnesota voters. Do you think all of those people will go through all this added trouble to vote?
Keep in mind, this Voter ID amendment passed the legislature along party lines, with the exception of one conscientious Republican that voted with the Democrats. Do you remember the last two election years? 2008, US Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, only won by 300 votes. In 2010, Governor Mark Dayton, a democrat, only won by 9,000 votes. Do you sense that somehow this Voter ID amendment is more about suppressing democratic votes, and not about improving election integrity?
It would be easy to stop right now and say, OK, the republicans just want to increase their power and control over us. Why? Is it because they enjoy being jerks and causing misery? What is the ultimate motive behind voter suppression…?
It’s about money. It’s about keeping the rich richer and the poor poorer. Many of you are already aware of the right wing think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC for short. This group is funded by many wealthy Corporations, and consists of thousands of Republican state legislators from across the country. Five states passed voter ID laws last year, and in each of them the bill’s sponsor was an ALEC member. ALEC wants to suppress the people’s vote because they don’t want the people to vote to send politicians to St Paul OR Washington that will actually stand against the corporations and the rich 1% that are majority stockholders.
ALEC doesn’t want you to vote to tax the rich, or increase minimum wage. They want to take away your health care and the roof over your head. They want you to remain poor and subservient. They want us to remain divided, to hate and resent each other, because we are union members, or have a different skin color, or are gay. They want us to live in fear of one another, if they do all of this, they will remain rich and powerful.
So we need to pledge in our hearts, that this challenge to at least 300,000 Minnesota voters does not go unanswered. That we will spread the truth about voter ID to co-workers, our friends, and our families. That we will go vote this November, and we will say NO to voter suppression.