State Catholic conference opposes voter ID bills

| February 3, 2011 | 8 Comments

It was standing room only for a House committee hearing on a proposal to require photo identification for voters.

For nearly two hours Thursday, supporters and opponents of two photo ID bills testified before the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

The bills, authored by state Reps. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Mike Benson (R-Rochester), would require voters to present a photo ID before receiving a ballot at their polling place. Both bills allow for voters to obtain free government IDs if they do not have a driver’s license or other acceptable form of identification.

Supporters of the bills argue that the state’s current voting system does not provide adequate safeguards against abuse.

Opponents, including the Minnesota Catholic Conference, say the requirement would disenfranchise the elderly, college students and minorities.

Katie Conlin, interim social concerns director for MCC, told The Catholic Spirit: “The reality is that a lot of people don’t have photo identification. And while these bills would create a free government-issued ID for people, . . . that doesn’t address the difficulty in getting that ID for some folks.

“You would still have to have some sort of supporting documentation in order to get the ID,” Conlin explained. “Let’s say you’re a woman who got married and had a name change. Then you would have to have your birth certificate, your marriage license and proof of your current residence.

“Then you’d have to get to wherever it is that the ID is going to be issued,” she added. “It would affect anyone with limited access to

Conlin also questioned the effectiveness of photo IDs to prevent voter fraud.

“It’s not that we’re opposed to having a good, clear, clean voting system,” she said.

Rather, it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money on an unnecessary measure, she said. “All the known prosecutions have been for convicted felons voting, and a voter ID would not indicate whether a person is a felon.”

The House panel is scheduled to vote on the bills next Tuesday.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference is the social policy arm of the state’s bishops.

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  • Brent

    a photo id is easy to get, eveyone, whether they drive or not, has access to one. and having a photo id is the best way to prevent voter fraud. it is encouraged by most credit card companies that you put "ask for photo id" along with your signature on the back of your credit card. this is not a burden to anyone except illegal aliens and other neferious folks.

  • Kevin O'Donovan

    A state identification card is offered at no cost to those who need one and can't afford one.If the state can list on an ID or DL limitations, exceptions, requirements, or organ donors why not immigration status? Identification fraud is a serious problem, a driver with phony ID has no valid insurance, a child whose parents obtain credit under the name of the children can ruin a childs record for a long time. Children born with phony parental info is also a problem. No ID is a big problem for honest people, dishonest people benefit by remaining in the shadows.

  • Sean North

    The Minnesota Catholic Conference is just another left-wing arm of the Democrat Party.

    • jtowalski

      Your comment is simply false. The Minnesota Catholic Conference works on a wide variety of issues related to Catholic social teaching. It works to promote human life and human dignity, and its advocacy does not fit neatly into either the Democratic or Republican parties' agendas.

      • Brent

        While it is true that the MCC is not party affiliated, it often seems to be slanted to the Democratic party side when not discussing pro-life issues. It seems to want Government to take care of the things we as Christians are to do by forcing redistribution of wealth via taxes rather than letting individuals cheerfully give to charities. I think that is why many think as Sean North does.

        •  I would think the MCC’s work on the marriage amendment pretty quickly proves you wrong.

        •  I would think the MCC’s work on the marriage amendment pretty quickly proves you wrong.

  • Kelly

    It's disappointing to me that the Catholic Church, of whom I am a member, is weighing in on an issue that has nothing to do with Catholic doctrine. Keep this up these types of frivolous lobbying efforts of how the Government should govern and you won't be able to argue that the Government shouldn't be involve in how Catholics run their churches.
    Voter ID would provide for those who can't afford an ID. Keep in mind that those of limited transportation means have 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year to make arrangements to go get their ID. Everyone, at some point needs to go to some government agency to do business. And how long would the ID's be valid? Mine is valid for 4 years. So in order to vote twice a year, we are asking those to make arrangements once every four years to obtain a valid ID.