Tick, tick, tick. Five days until November 6 (that’s when you vote, unless you already voted, in which case — why are you reading this?) and that means this is day two of reasons you should VOTE NO on both amendments on Minnesota’s ballot. Read day one and the intro here.

Scenario 1: None of the LGBT people in my life have told me voting no is important.

Oof. It’s five days away and someone has been putting off the tough conversations. That’s okay. Maybe your niece assumes you’re voting yes and can’t be swayed and she doesn’t want to deal with the pain of actually knowing that’s what you’re doing. Maybe you have one gay colleague at work who thinks (possibly correctly) that they’d be fired if they broached the subject to colleagues.

I know it’s weird or awkward, but if you’re undecided, waffling, or know undecided people, now is the time to ask — or encourage others to ask some LGBT people — “How will this amendment affect your life? How do you feel about it?” Yeah, it’ll be awkward, but it’s just as likely that person would welcome the chance to tell you their story.

For me, I can’t describe the personal sadness I would feel knowing that my state — my people — thought so little of me that not only could they not bring themselves to reject something that made something that was illegal already extra illegal, but they wanted to change our constitution to actually promote discrimination.

For me, marriage was something I didn’t think was important until I actually met a woman who I realized would be the most amazing partner, teammate, cheerleader, and love for the rest of my life. I desperately wanted to protect her and care for her and I realized that there are definitely ways in which I can’t do that because federally and in our state, our Massachusetts marriage isn’t recognized. In some legal ways, not being able to get married makes you a permanent child — it’s your parents who will deal with your remains when you die; your parents who will be allowed in the hospital.

It’s not as dire, but what I found out after getting married was that there is something quite special about saying “I’m in it. Good or bad.” in public. There’s a reason that, at weddings, the officiant sometimes has more than just the couple say “I do.” They also ask the people in attendance — assumed to be the core communities and families of the couple — to be their support system when life gets hard and to help them stay strong as a couple. As much as I hate to admit it because of my rather strong independent streak, ritual means something. It changes how people see you, and sometimes it changes how you think about things.

Scenario 2: I keep hearing about voter fraud. It seems reasonable to try to prevent it.

Okay, first, let’s talk about what “voter fraud” means. What is the definition?

Here is the thing, it’s not a great term. Secondly, the amendment we’ve got on the ballot isn’t just about the vague notion of fraud.

This is how the amendment will be presented to you on the ballot:

Photo Identification Required for Voting.

“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?”

Here is the actual wording of the amendment. There’s stuff in there about length of residence in a district, ‘mental competence,’ etc. that’s not included in what you’re voting on. That…well, that’s not good. If you’re a student, you should probably worry about that length of residence thing because you guys are always picking up and moving around.

So fine, that’s what’s on the ballot. But what’s the reason? Ah yes, the amorphous “voter fraud” thing.

The way in which the concept of voter fraud is being invoked in this kind of legislation is simple — it’s focused on individuals trying to vote in precincts they don’t live in or when they’re ineligible to vote. If that was actually a problem, that might suck a lot.

But it’s not. Go read about the Carnegie and Knight Foundations-funded report on election/voting fraud.

Here are what you need to pay attention to (from the site):

Since 2000, while fraud has occurred, the number of cases is infinitesimal.

In-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent. Only 10 such cases over more than a decade were reported.

There is more fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than any other category. The analysis shows 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases of registration fraud. A required photo ID at the polls would not have prevented these cases. (NOTE: these are still tiny, tiny numbers across the nation.)

Okay, so 10 cases of in-person voting fraud (the kind that the ID amendment would prevent) happened since 2000. During that time, 146 million Americans cast votes. That makes the incidence of voting fraud 0.00000001. If you think those odds are a problem, you should definitely play the lottery because you are sure to be a winner!

But seriously, this is a thing that hardly happens. Implementing the amendment will cost money (a lot of money) and will make it harder for people we like quite a bit (Grandma, for instance) to vote. And nuns, 23 nuns to be exact, which is double all the in-person voting fraud over 10+ years that ID would have prevented all in one state in one year!

It’s really simple. This is an amendment to address a non-existent problem. So what’s the purpose? What problem is it trying to solve? I’ll talk about that another day…


Stopwatch designed by Steffen Nørgaard Andersen from The Noun Project