MCC’s board opposes the amendment for the following reasons:
The amendment, if enacted, would create a fundamental shift in the understanding of how citizens grant power to government in exchange for their right to govern. Currently a citizen takes an oath when registering to vote, giving his or her word that voting eligibility standards have been met. The burden has been on the government to prove voter fraud and to prosecute such cases (which almost never occur on the basis of false identity, the only type of fraud this amendment is attempting to address). This amendment, if passed, will, for the first time, set up a government regulatory system that supplants a citizen’s oath and burdens citizens to prove their right to vote. (The exact scope of this regulatory system will be set up by the legislature after the amendment is approved, leaving the amendment’s impact to be unknown).
As a Christian organization, we affirm the principles of a participatory democracy which encourages people to join in the democratic process, engages in the great conversation of our democracy, and urges people to vote to help decide and define the future of our shared life as citizens. We have a role to safe-guard the right to vote.
Many citizens are retreating from the public square because political life is so contentious and overly partisan. Religious leaders and their communities should make every effort to emphasize shared wisdom and common themes to help Minnesotans build a sense of shared purpose, and to ameliorate the splintering for both organized religion and for political life.
Reduced Voter Accessibility
Reputable, non-partisan research is making it clear that the effect of Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment on voter identification will disenfranchise thousands of Minnesota voters; perhaps hundreds of thousands.
Groups such as Lutheran Social Service, Catholic Charities, the Jewish Community Action Council, and many congregations and judicatories see this issue through the lens of social justice. These groups who follow Biblical teachings to care for the poor, homeless, elderly, disabled and transient, believe this amendment would disenfranchise the very people they work with to be recognized as full citizens.
Many groups such as those who are disabled, students, elderly, poor, or homeless, may find it challenging and expensive to obtain the documents needed to obtain the required voter ID. The oath citizens make under current law to vouch for another citizen is something that should not be denigrated, but actually lifted up as a matter of great importance.
Students should be encouraged into a lifetime of voting and broader engagement as citizens. But this bill will make it harder for them to vote because their photo ID will often not show their residency where they are attending college. We believe we should encourage, not discourage our youth and young adults in their first attempt to vote.
We oppose the amendment as a matter of financial stewardship. The increased costs to the state and to local governments’ budgets incurred by the proposed changes to Minnesota’s voting regulations providing “free” voter picture IDs, and new voting stipulations such as provisional ballots should be used for more pressing needs within our state and communities. As this proposal is being considered, new technology is being developed that will be more effective in registering and identifying voters.