This week on politics.mn, I will be examining the messaging from opponents and proponents of the constitutional amendment to require a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID to vote. As I’ve noted before, I’m voting yes on the amendment.
Our Vote Our Future – an organization which opposes the constitutional amendment to produce a government-issued photo ID headed by former Vice-President Walter Mondale, former Governor Arne Carlson and former Congressman Tim Penny, has released a new ad called “Simple Thing.” The goal of the ad is to refute the reasons why people like me support the photo ID constitutional amendment. I’ve watched the ad numerous times, along with advertisements from supporters of the photo ID amendment, ProtectMyVote.com.
I want to start with the claim of whether Minnesota has voter fraud. Below is a screen capture of the text on Our Vote Our Future’s ad about voter fraud in Minnesota. The text clearly states “MINNESOTA HAS NO VOTER FRAUD”, but the voice-over audio is much different.
This is what the announcer on the ad says: “Well, voter fraud is just not a problem right now. After two recounts where we scrutinized every vote, we’ve learned Minnesota has pretty much has no voter fraud.” Let’s dissect the statement from the announcer. She says “…voter fraud is just not a problem right now” – this sentence indicates voter fraud was once a problem in Minnesota. The supporters of this ad may not think voter fraud is a current problem, but even their own ad indicates it has happened. In the second part of the statement, please note the difference between the spoken words and the audio on the screen. The announcer says “Minnesota has pretty much no voter fraud”, but the ad text states “MINNESOTA HAS NO VOTER FRAUD.” There is a difference between the two statements.
The two statements – one spoken and one spelled out in text – cannot both be factually correct. Either voter fraud has happened or it hasn’t in Minnesota. The opponents of this amendment may believe the examples of voter fraud that have occurred in Minnesota to be de minimis, but they still happened. I will propose it’s likely that even the people who designed this advertisement were aware of voter fraud examples in Minnesota otherwise they wouldn’t have parsed the words. Why have two different messages? Either Minnesota has “no voter fraud” or “pretty much no voter fraud” – but not both.
While there is a passionate disagreement about the need for the constitutional amendment requiring photo ID, voter fraud happens in Minnesota. As noted above, even an organization opposing the amendment needed to add words like “pretty much” to their ad to ensure accuracy of the statement about voter fraud in Minnesota.
Aside from Our Vote Our Future, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is opposed to the photo ID constitutional amendment. I visited their website and found this on the page “What to say to fight photo ID”:
“Fact: Despite a massive investigation by photo ID proponents, there were only 160 voter eligibility violation cases filed in 2011, and only 140 convictions. All of which were felons voting before they were eligible. 2,700,000 votes were cast in 2010 primary and general elections. That is a .006% rate of error. Contrast that with the 45% of eligible voters who did not vote in 2010, which is the bigger problem?” Source: American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota
The ACLU’s number is 140 – Minnesota Majority, an organization which supports the constitutional amendment requiring photo ID released a report in 2011 which stated 113 convictions for voter fraud. They claim the number has grown closer to 200. Either way, both groups on opposite sides of this issue both cite examples of voter fraud convictions in Minnesota. The only disagreement is on the size and scope of the problem and if the constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID is the solution or is a solution in search of a problem.
Finally, one disagreement is on the definition of voter fraud. I’m a Minnesotan, born and raised. As a Minnesotan supporting the constitutional amendment requiring photo ID, I believe if someone votes in an election and they are not legally allowed to vote – voter fraud has occurred. My definition is open to debate and disagrement. But I believe most Minnesotans would agree with my definition of voter fraud and that voter fraud happens. I’ll be issuing a Hook, Line and Sinker Fact Check of this ad later in the week. Check back to politics.mn for additional posts on the constitutional amendment to require a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID to vote.