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May 21, 2011

The Honorable Mark Dayton
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Governor Mark Dayton:

We, the undersigned coalition of voting, disability and civil rights organizations, write to express our
strong opposition to SF 509/HF 210 and urge you to veto this unnecessary, costly and harmful
legislation. Quite simply, this legislation is part of a national strategy to scale back voting rights in this
country for racial minorities, seniors, the working poor and students.

For decades, Minnesota has been a national model for election administration. The last two recounts
have shown that Minnesota has some of the best election laws on the books -- laws that specifically
create an effective, open and transparent process, particularly for those rare times in which elections are
extraordinarily close. That is why it is so puzzling that legislators would introduce legislation to try to
dismantle a great election system.

The voter ID legislation before you is a solution in search of a problem. While supporters of this bill
argue it is needed to combat voter fraud, numerous investigations in Minnesota and several national
studies have failed to uncover evidence of substantial voter fraud that would be addressed by requiring
government-issued photo identification at polling places. Instead, these bills will only erect barriers to
the ballot box for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.

A survey conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that
11 percent of American citizens do not possess a valid, government-issued photo ID. Those numbers
increase among certain populations: 15 percent of eligible low-income citizens, 18 percent of young
eligible voters and 25 percent of African-American eligible voters. A 2005 study of voting-age citizens
in the neighboring state of Wisconsin determined that 55 percent of African-American males and 46
percent of Hispanic males—as compared with 16 percent of white males—lack a driver’s license (and the
corresponding figures for females are 49 percent of African-Americans, 59 percent of Latinas, and 17
percent of whites). These statistics make it clear that this legislation will have disproportionate impact on
the very communities that have fought so long against attempts to minimize their voice in the voting
process. While supporters of the bill claim that this is not their intent, there is no question that this is
what the impact will be.

With such a proud tradition of voter participation in Minnesota, it is distressing that such a harmful and
divisive piece of legislation has made it to your desk. Please stand up for all Minnesotans and veto SF
509/HF 210.


Advancement Project
African American Ministers in Action National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
All Education Matters National Council of Jewish Women
America Votes National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action
American Association of People with Fund
Disabilities National Organization for Women
Black Youth Vote! People For the American Way
Brennan Center for Justice at the New York Progressive States Action
University School of Law Project Vote
Community Action of Minneapolis Rock the Vote
Common Cause Somali Action Alliance
Demos The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Energy Action Coalition Rights
Fair Elections Legal Network The National Urban League
Feminist Majority Foundation
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Right Under Law
League of Women Voters Minnesota
National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People