Elections Require Some Work Of All Of Us…
it’s not a spectator sport.
By the time you receive this issue of ECHOES, we will be about 30 days away from the next election (November 6th). I really hope that you are paying attention to who is running for office, as well as what their positions are on the issues that are most important to you.
On a related note, we were proud to help co-sponsor the recent Candidate Forum which took place in Ogilvie on September 13th. There was a good public turnout for the event and all but one candidate was able to attend (Rep. Chip Cravaack had to be back in D.C. for a House session). The event went off without a hitch, our moderator Scott McKinney did a fine job of asking the questions of the candidates, the venue had a good sound system (the auditorium), and the volunteers from Seven County, Lakes & Pine and the Ogilvie School District did a great job of hosting. I chatted with a number of you that were able to attend the event. I hope that you are able to take advantage of any future opportunity to hear and speak with your prospective candidates. After all, they’re auditioning for a job and, as the “employer,” you’re the one responsible for conducting the interviews… you’re the boss, you pay their salary. Get and stay involved with your employees. Let them know how you feel about the job you’ve hired them to do for you.
As you know, there are also some Constitutional Amendments proposed for Minnesota, and you will have a chance to add your voice as you vote on these issues this fall.
Voter ID… I’ve devoted space to this issue a number of times and we have discussed it many times during our monthly meetings of Seven County Senior Federation members, as well as at our convention back in April in Braham. The GMHCC (Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition) monthly meetings have also been a forum for extended review of the proposed amendments, especially Voter ID.
There are three key points that need to be made in any voting change discussion. Number one is the discriminatory nature of the ID proposal when you examine who will be most affected if the amendment passes, namely; Senior Citizens, the disabled population, and students of college age. Those three (3) groups represent a significant block of the voting public and they will be disproportionately affected if the ID Amendment passes in Minnesota.
Number two is the non-existent nature of the alleged voting problem that needs to be solved. Supporters say they are looking for “election integrity” when they describe their support. That indicates that supporters believe that there is a high incidence of voter fraud in Minnesota. The numbers simply do not bear that out, either in Minnesota, nor nationally. A number of independent studies have been done to investigate the supposed problem that is at the center of the debate. These independent, non-partisan studies confirm that election integrity is high in Minnesota, and cross the country, and reinforce our belief that the current system is not broken and doesn’t need to be fixed. Bringing us to…
Number three, which is the cost element. The Taxpayers of Minnesota shouldn’t have to pay to fix a problem that doesn’t exist (we already have enough REAL problems that need our attention). Cost estimates to implement the changes that are being talked about are in the millions. While exact numbers will not be known unless the implementation statute is adopted, a fiscal note for the 2011 voter ID legislation indicated that the cost to local governments to implement the law for state elections would be approximately $8.2 million dollars. Such an expense would be a burden on rural communities (and taxpayers), unless the State were to pay for all implementation and increased ongoing administrative costs should the amendment pass. Of course, whether it’s the state or local government paying the bill initially, it’s going to be us and our tax dollars that will be liable for that expense. If ever there was a time to “just vote NO,” this is it.
Marriage Equality… If you’re looking for an issue that shouldn’t have been drug into the voting booth in the first place, this qualifies. People who continually rally for the separation of church and state should be on their soapboxes about this issue. Instead of advocating for or against this issue, Churches should be on their soapboxes (and pulpits) telling their members that this is a church issue, not a political one. In this item of Civil Rights, there’s a critical decision being made and doing it through a popular referendum is the wrong way. Case in point, if you wanted to make this vote any more confusing by using the wording that’s on the ballot, as well as the decision of what a “YES” or “NO” vote means, you couldn’t have done a better job. I’m sticking with my original assertion that this is an issue that should never have been on the ballot in the first place… this marriage issue is a church issue, not a political one. Just so you know, if you’re thinking of leaving the Marriage Amendment space blank it will be counted as a “NO,” which means you don’t want the government to amend the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage for you. Personally, I’d rather have my church define what marriage is, not the state of Minnesota or the government. That’s what a “NO” vote, or a blank ballot will mean; that you want the decision to belong to your church.
Finally… we continue to get positive feedback and additional coverage of the GMHCC report on your tax dollars and how they are wasted. The report “Who Was Minding The Store” (about Healthcare Accountability in Minnesota and the HMOs) was released during an August 23 rd press conference at the state capitol in St. Paul. KSTP-TV, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press did pieces on the report and our advocacy efforts. You can find links to those stories on our GMHCC.org website so if you haven’t read or watched the news coverage you can still do so. We’re working to make sure your tax dollars are spent wisely and effectively.
Peace… and good, affordable, accessible healthcare to all!