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Roger Haglund, Moorhead, Published April 09 2012

Voter ID law is a very bad idea

One of our core rights as citizens is the right to vote. It has taken many years of protests, constitutional amendments, new laws and court decisions to ensure this right for all adult Americans. Now Republicans in at least 34 state legislatures are considering or have passed laws that reduce early voting, restrict voter registration drives and require government-issued photo identification to vote.

This might sound like a good idea, if evidence showed voter fraud was a problem. However, the nonpartisan Brennan Center reported that “the type of voter fraud addressed by these voter ID laws is rarer than death by lightning.” Even the Justice Department under George Bush, which spent five years looking for improper voters to prosecute, found virtually no evidence of voter fraud.

If fraud isn’t a real problem, why would more than 30 Republican-run state legislatures (including Minnesota’s) try to enact voter ID laws? The answer is ALEC – a group you probably know nothing about.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is a secretive national group of powerful corporations and billionaire conservatives who create models of bills they would like to see passed. They give these to willing Republican legislators to take back to their states. Their goals include things such as getting rid of labor unions, cutting taxes for the rich and getting rid of laws that protect investors, consumers and the environment. The Center for Media and Democracy found that almost every voter ID law in the nation contains the wording of a template provided by ALEC.

So why is ALEC promoting voter ID laws? Because the majority of people who lack government-issued photo IDs are minorities and the poor, and these groups tend to vote for Democrats. The Brennan Center estimates that up to 5 million voters could be adversely affected by these laws. By discouraging these Democrat-leaning groups from voting, ALEC can elect more Republicans who will be friendly to their interests.

Remember, the Coleman/Franken Senate race was decided by only a few hundred votes. We need to stand up and demand that our legislators represent and protect the rights of all citizens and not pass laws dictated to them by billionaire think tanks.