ST. PAUL, Minn. – Voter fraud has long been a tense issue in the United States. In 2012 Minnesota’s referendum requiring voters to to present a photo ID at the polls brought the issue to the forefront of the state’s political scene.
More recently, President Donald Trump’s claim that the 2016 election saw millions of people vote illegally has made it a hot topic nationwide. In Minnesota that 2012 Constitutional amendment failed at the ballot box, dropping 54-46.
“From watching that from the outside and talking to some people who were involved it appeared that the polling was so positive about voter ID that the other side raised a bunch of money and spent it and we didn’t because they thought it would pass on its own,” Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson told Alpha News.
Johnson is one of several Republican candidates for governor heading into 2018, and he along with many of his competitors are beginning to champion voter ID and other means of ensuring the integrity of elections. He believes the campaign to vote YES on the amendment did not take it seriously enough, and failed to emphasize a key second part of the amendment, that the Minnesotan government would have provided free IDs to anyone who did not already have one.
He believes that under such circumstances, the reasons that opponents to voter ID laws give for their opposition are less than satisfactory.
“The answer is one of two things: some people don’t have id and therefore they can’t vote, and i think that is an issue that we need to address it. A free ID for everyone is perfectly acceptable to me,” Johnson said. “The second, when people are really honest, is ‘Well people who are undocumented are going to be afraid of going to the polls,’ which of course they should be.”
While he notes that election fraud is a hard thing to track statistically, Johnson believes that it is perhaps more important to ensure that the people of the state are confident that their elections are freely and fairly run. It is therefore critical that any instances of or fears of voter fraud are addressed quickly.
“I just think it creates cynicism about government and politics in general,” Johnson said. “If your belief is that elections aren’t fair you are going to be pretty cynical about what your elected officials are doing.”
Alpha News reached out to the gubernatorial campaigns of Sen. Dave Osmek (R-Mound) and Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), but they did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.