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Not a good bill

Daily Herald, editorial

Minnesota Republicans’ push for a voter identification law is one of the least worthy bills presented during this year’s legislative session. The measure is political grandstanding that will accomplish nothing except to add the myriad times, places and reasons that Americans must carry with them “proper identification.”

Minnesota has uncovered only a few dozen cases of voter fraud in recent elections, and those were elections that were scrutinized intensely because of the virtual ties in the voting for governor and United States senator. So where’s the problem? There isn’t one. But there is an opportunity for some politicians to look good to a narrow constituency that think more government oversight is the answer to their fear that illegal residents might try to influence elections. The reality — as everyone familiar with the aggravated forgery problem in Austin knows — is that identification is not a hard thing to come by for anyone who seriously wants it. But the reality is that Minnesota does not have a voter fraud problem. The reality is that Minnesota needs more people voting, not fewer. And the reality is that making voting harder will affect everybody. Finally, the whole issue of requiring identification on more and more occasions is faintly repugnant. While it’s convenient for governments to require their citizenry be properly identified and labeled, it’s not really conducive to the kind of open society that Americans want.

In short, the election identification bill is, like so many other measures this session, more about appearances than about realities. It does not deserve to advance into law.