Approved by the: University Senate - October 4, 2012
Administration - no action required*
Board of Regents - no action required

* The administration has received and acknowledges the sense of the University Senate

Statement Against the Proposed "Photo Identification Required for Voting" Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Minnesota

The Equity, Access, and Diversity (EAD) Committee of the University Senate of the University of Minnesota, composed of faculty, staff, and students, strongly opposes the amendment to the State of Minnesota's constitution titled "Photo Identification Required for Voting."  The question voters will be posed is:  "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"[1]

The "Photo Identification Required for Voting" Amendment would add additional barriers to voting that are not currently in place and would disproportionately affect certain populations of the state of Minnesota, including members of the University of Minnesota student body.  The amendment would limit voters to those who "present valid government-issued photographic identification" containing their current address.  Students keeping their parents' home address (or other non-school year address) on their Government Issued ID can only vote at the address listed on their Government Issued IDs, not necessarily where they are living. In effect, many students will no longer have any say about local policies that affect them while in college unless they obtain new Government Issued IDs each time they change residences.   At present, UM IDs do not contain addresses, so they are not a valid form of government identification for voting purposes.  This amendment reflects a dramatic change from the language currently reflected in the Constitution of the State of Minnesota.  Currently, our constitution says: "Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct ."  This includes our college students, who can choose to vote where they currently live or at their permanent address.

The EAD Committee believes that the approval of this constitutional amendment would directly discriminate against our students as well as other groups—senior citizens and the economically disadvantaged. We believe that by limiting opportunities for citizens to vote, the amendment is neither in the best interest of the University of Minnesota nor its faculty, staff, or students.  We therefore:

1.     Encourage all members of the University community to carefully review the amendment, and, if persuaded by our arguments (or others), take a stance in opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment.

2.     Encourage all members of the University community to educate one another and the public on this issue.

3.     Urge Minnesota citizens to affirm the rights of all citizens to vote consistent with the current constitution—which we believe requires a vote of NO.

[Approved September 25, 2012, by the Equity, Access, and Diversity Committee and October 3, 2012 by the Social Concerns Committee]