by Sue Hnastchenko

The photo ID amendment (HF2738), which at press time is pending in the Minnesota Legislature and may be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot, would require a government-issued photo ID with a current address. The implications for Election Day registration, vouching and absentee ballot issues are unknown. The League of Women Voters believes that the impact of the photo ID issue disproportionately affects women in a negative way.

Who will be affected and how?
• Elderly women-Women are the majority of the elder population. Some have never had a driver's license and many who no longer drive do not have a current license. In order to get a "free" voter photo ID, a woman would need to travel to a Vehicle Services office-a problem for those with disability issues and limited transportation. She would have to bring a certified copy of her birth certificate, and if her name has changed, a copy of her marriage certificate-at a possible financial expense.

• Women in emergency shelters-Women escaping domestic violence, relocating because of divorce or struggling to provide for their families because of the loss of their home would all be unable to vote because they would not have a photo ID with a current address. Often voting is one of the few things these women can do to feel like a valued citizen in our democracy.

• Young women-Those attending school and relocating for jobs and internships often do not change their driver's license to reflect their dormitory or student housing until they are settled permanently. Student IDs are not considered a valid photo ID under the proposed legislation.

• Women in the military-Military IDs were not considered a valid photo ID under the legislation proposed in 2011. Often women who have served our country suffer from physical and emotional barriers upon their return and don't have IDs showing their current address. There are also many unanswered questions surrounding absentee ballots for those serving abroad or somewhere else in the country.

• Women with disabilities-In addition to the challenges mentioned above, these women would have to coordinate with their personal care attendant, schedule transportation and incur expenses for documentation.

Brave women fought for years for the right to vote and many never had the opportunity to exercise that right! Honor their memory and take an active role in our democracy to ensure that all people have equal and open access to voting. Voting is a right, not a privilege.

Sue Hnastchenko is a member of the League of Women Voters South Tonka.

FFI: The League of Women Voters (LWV) was formed out of the suffrage movement and its work to expand the right to vote to women 91 years ago. The LWV is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. www.LWVMN.org



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