The Crystal City Council voted on June 5 to oppose the voter identification amendment, which will appear on the ballot this fall.
The amendment would require all Minnesota voters to show photo identification before voting.
The Crystal Human Rights Commission approached the city council asking for them to oppose the amendment.
“I am very opposed to that [Voter ID] because of the number of people that won’t be able to vote,” commission member Lorraine Diederichs said.
The proposed amendment is said to allow for less election fraud. Currently, all that’s required for a registered voter is proper identification, a current piece of mail proving residency — like a utility bill — or someone to vouch for them.
Diederichs has a history of working the Crystal elections and said throughout her years of volunteering, she has never seen a case of voter fraud.
“There are a number of people who we have no guarantee that they can even get a birth certificate to even get a driver’s license and you need that for voter ID,” Diederichs said.
She recalled a past election where a man who had never voted showed up with his son, who with a proper ID was able to vouch for his father so he was able to vote during his first election in 2008.
“I had tears in my eyes,” Diederichs said. “It’s like he stood many inches taller after. He was so touched.”
If his son were not able to vouch for him, the father would have never been able to vote, Diederichs said.
“There’s a lot of stories like that,” she said. “The other thing is poverty. For those watching their money closely, just to renew a license is $24. The cost of a birth certificate is $25. If their budget is tight, they don’t have that money.”
Crystal Councilmember Mark Hoffman also disagrees with the measure to require voter ID saying that his biggest issue is that it takes away rights from people.
“It’s taking away privileges from people who need it most,” he said. “A lot of seniors don’t have proper ID, and the amendment doesn’t state if it’s a driver’s license. What’s the formal statement going to be?”
Hoffmann believes voter ID will eliminate voting for those who currently rely on the vouching and mail system.
“We’ve made it easy for people to vote,” he said. “We have a large section of people that have voted and maybe can’t in the future.”
Even if the government allows for free IDs, Hoffmann said people would still have to worry about how to get one. He also believes that absentee ballots will become an overblown issue if the amendment passes.
“How are they going to check IDs on absentee ballots or on soldiers overseas?” he said. “If they want me to vote on it, they have to give me all of the examples.”
When the council was first approached to oppose the amendment, Hoffmann said it wasn’t the council’s responsibility to make a decision, but after further research, he said the council taking a stand sets a precedent that otherwise may not have been there.
“Some people don’t have to worry,” Hoffmann said. “Why fix something that isn’t broken? It’s obviously a party issue, but I happen to believe more than anything it’s a human rights issue. They’re taking rights away from people that in 64 years, I haven’t seen happen.”