Former MN Governor Chides “Voter ID” Author For Disenfranchising Elderly

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Click on photo to watch Mary Kiffmeyer and Arne Carlson debate

Click on photo to watch Mary Kiffmeyer and Arne Carlson debate

“Elderly people are in a panic about this,” exclaimed passionate and vocal Minnesota voter restriction amendment foe Arne Carlson as he spoke at a debate in Maplewood, Minnesota recently.

Carlson, a former Minnesota Governor and a Republican, spoke about elderly Minnesotans in assisted living facilities who could be disenfranchised if the proposed voter restriction constitutional amendment passes. He cites a study done in Koochiching county that weighed the impact it could have on nursing home residents. Out of 24 residents in one facility, only one had the proper ID, Carlson recalled.

Governore Carlson and ACLU’s Carolyn Jackson squared off against amendment author Representative Mary Kiffmeyer and Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority and Protect My at a recent debate held in Maplewood, Minnesota. The City of Maplewood wanted to hold an information session for voters on the issue, but it turned into a debate once Representative Kiffmeyer and Governor Carlson agreed to appear.

The gloves came off as McGrath and Carlson traded jabs about the use of US Passports and the cost to taxpayers.

“Under this bill, If I used my US passport, that would not qualify,” said Carlson.

That claim was quickly tested by McGrath saying it was, “incorrect”. Carlson refuted McGrath by saying that the amendment’s authors have yet to define what government issued IDs will be acceptable for use when voting and that passports may not be on that list.

Amendment author Mary Kiffmeyer cited a study done by the Center for the American Experiment that outlined how voter ID laws save states money. Carlson again chimed in with figures provided by county auditors that say the amendment could cost upward of $150 per ballot.

“I’m tempted to send the bill to these guys,” said Carlson as he pointed to McGrath and Kiffmeyer.

Both sides of the debate drew audience cheering and jeering. Supporters of the amendment say that the bill would eliminate cheaters and remove temptation of those who want to steal away votes.

“If there is voter fraud, your right to speak and be heard in government is taken away from you. It’s stolen by people that commit acts of fraud in our election system. As I’ve said, you can’t look at our election system and election day registration vouching and understand the value of those ballots and believe no one would be tempted to steal it from you,” said McGrath.

Governor Carlson accused proponents of trying to strike fear into voters decisions and said that they have not been able to name one case of voter fraud.

“You would think we have criminals hiding behind every voting booth,” said Carlson. “They have not come up with one case of voter impersonation. Not one. And then they come back here and tell us what a terrible system we have.”

Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera, originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif.,  studied media and Spanish at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she earned her bachelor s. Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has been a news producer for KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, communications coordinator for Twin Cities Public Television's arts series MN Original, and producer for the Association of Minnesota Public and Educational Radios Stations for the series MN90: Minnesota History in 90 Seconds.

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