While groups all across Minnesota fight against the Photo ID Amendment, an amendment that would require government-issued photo ID before voting and would disenfranchise thousands of voters, a larger battle over voter registration and suppression rages on at a national level.
On September 12th, Elisabeth MacNamara, the president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and spoke about the importance of maintaining and protecting voters’ rights.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that was founded in 1920, six months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Since literally the beginning of women’s right to vote in the United States, the League has been there to advocate for voters’ rights and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to have their voices heard in the elections. The League does not endorse any parties or candidates, but strives to provide equality and advocacy for all voters.
In MacNamara’s statement, she brought forward accounts of disenfranchised voters all over the country, victims of voter registration laws: elderly men and women unable to provide the needed paperwork to apply for government identification; college students sent vague, threatening letters from government officials, implying that they would have to un-register as voters because their cars were not registered in-state; disabled veterans unable to afford the time and money needed to procure the proper documentation of their identities. These harrowing personal accounts were just snapshots in the wave of numbers, as a study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that as many as five million eligible voters may be disenfranchised by new state voting laws. Compare this to the fact that not one case of voter fraud has been definitively found.
MacNamara ended her testimony with a plea to the judiciary to step in and held defend voters’ rights in the United States: “Our message, Mr. Chairman, was simply put by President Lincoln during the Civil War. The United States must be a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Restrictions on the right to vote limit the role of citizens in our democracy and are simply unacceptable. So too are the decisions that have turned special interests loose to dominate our elections and distort our democracy. We have a lot of work ahead” (MacNamara 11).
So while we fight to stop the voter restriction amendment in Minnesota, we are part of a larger movement to ensure suffrage for all Americans, as has been the law since women fought hard for those rights, 92 years ago.
To read the entirety of MacNamara’s testimony, visit http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/9-12-12MacNamaraTestimony.pdf.
To learn more about the voter restriction amendment in Minnesota and how to fight back against its attempt at voter suppression, visit http://www.ourvoteourfuture.org/.
To find out more about voter registration and pledge to vote, visit http://womenvote2012.blogspot.com/.
MacNamara, Elisabeth. United States. United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. STATEMENT BY ELISABETH MACNAMARA, PRESIDENT LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY ON THE CITIZENS UNITED COURT AND THE CONTINUING IMPORTANCE OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT. Washington DC: , 2012. Web. <http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/9-12-12MacNamaraTestimony.pdf>.