On Monday, the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus posted a video from Project Veritas.
Maybe you've forgotten who that is. If not, you probably wish you could.
Project Veritas is the right-wing outfit that reportedly tried (and failed) to trick the Washington Post into publishing fake sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore in 2017, and allegedly tried (and failed) to lure a CNN reporter onto a boat full of porn and dildos in 2010.
You know, professionals.
Anyway, in this video, Project Veritas attempted to expose Minnesota as a fraudster’s paradise by trying to register some third parties—in this case, NFL superstars Tim Tebow and Tom Brady—to vote at various government centers. The thesis: Voter fraud is easily committed in Minnesota, and the state should force voters to present photo ID.
Sound familiar? That’s because, like this video, the idea of Voter ID is from eight gott-damn years ago. Minnesotans voted against a constitutional amendment requiring voters to present photo ID in 2012, by a 52 to 46 percent margin.
Senate Republicans, who hold a three-vote majority, have said they plan on bringing back this proposal in the legislative session that starts next week. Don't expect to hear anything new.
“I’m going to use the same argument that I used in 2012,” Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) told MPR. “That it’s simply an additional tool to protect our voter integrity.”
This time, instead of changing the state constitution, Republicans want to amend state law and make Minnesota only the eighth state to require voters provide photo ID. (Another 36 states have laws making voters show some form of identification.)
Democrats, who control both the House and, in Tim Walz, the governor's office, aren't interested in digging up this dead horse and beating it anew. Sen. Jeff Hayden (D-Minneapolis) told MPR that requiring a photo ID deliberately puts more one more hurdle between poor people and the ballot box. Low-income folks, people of color, and the elderly are all statistically less likely to have current IDs, and getting one costs a lot more in time, money, and trouble than you might think.
“I just think for the Senate Republicans to kind of bring this back after the voters firmly rejected it is shortsighted, it’s oppressive, and, dare I say, I think it’s racist,” Hayden said.
Historically, Minnesota has an esteemed record of high voter turnout and very few incidents of voter fraud. WCCO did the tedious work of tracking all of Minnesota’s voting “irregularities” from 2016, and there didn’t exactly seem to be an army of Tom Bradys and Tim Tebows out there.
In fact, there were only 11 convicted fraud cases. Most were from felons who said they didn’t know they weren’t allowed to vote, and one from a noncitizen who thought he could vote because he had a permanent resident card. All were sentenced to probation.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) seems to think 2012 was all a big misunderstanding—that people didn’t actually know what they were voting for.
“I think with all the things that have been happening around us, people want to know that the elections are secure,” Gazelka said, vaguely, in a video last week. “And we’re standing up and saying this is something we’re going to do.”
There are ways of making the 2020 elections more secure, things like stopping an attempted computer hack, but Minnesota's Republicans generally aren't interested. Why fight the present threat when you're still not over the one you made up eight years ago?