Take elections seriously

This election take time to reflect on the struggles and the challenges of those who for years were denied the opportunity to vote. Think of the efforts made by women and minorities over decades to obtain the right to vote. Also we should remember those who have sacrificed with their life in order to preserve our right to vote. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of those who have fought to protect our right to vote.

Secondly, we should be sure we are properly registered to vote. In the last election more than 500,000 Minnesotan’s showed up to vote who had not previously registered to vote. They used the process of showing a valid driver’s license or utility bill or perhaps asked a neighbor or a friend to vouch that they were indeed legally eligible to vote. Minnesota is one of only nine states that allows same day voter registration.

Isn’t it time we take our right to vote more seriously than to show up on Election Day to register? Our state constitution states “Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for more than three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days preceding an election shall be entitled to vote within that precinct.” So if you meet the legal requirements to vote shouldn’t you make sure you register to vote before Election Day?

Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans have just plain gotten lazy about their voting rights. When they moved, they didn’t forget to switch the cable TV service. They didn’t forget to tell their friends their new address. But they did forget to change their voter registration. It’s simple and easy to register to vote and in 41 other states you must do it before Election Day.

In the back and forth about requiring a photo ID in order to vote, some people claim that it will be an impediment to voting. Despite the rhetoric from people like Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, no one would be denied the opportunity to vote. If you don’t have a proper photo ID at the time you cast your ballot, you have 20 days to provide proper identification to ensure your ballot will be counted.

Again, every valid vote will be counted. As has been discussed at length, carrying a photo ID in our society is just a way of life. It’s not a burden or a measure of inconvenience that should prevent anyone from casting their vote. But let’s not demean voting to a casual task like picking up milk at the convenience store or remembering to take the recycling out to the curb. Our voting rights are too important to be considered a simple or mindless task of everyday life.

Voting is a responsibility that requires time, forethought and study. When we go to cast our vote we should know all of the offices on the ballot. We should have taken the time to examine the candidates and the issues. Obviously, we should know ahead of time where to vote or have filed to vote with an absentee ballot. In addition to all of the above, is it too much to ask to remember to bring your photo ID with you when you engage in this very important responsibility?

In order to preserve and protect the integrity of our election process let’s adopt a system of election security that 17 other states have – let’s require a photo ID. Let’s make sure we take our right to vote seriously. — Phil Krinkie, President of the Taxpayers League.

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