Minnesota Constitutional Amendment: Voter ID
by Fred Mason, University of Minnesota Law School, Street Law Course
This lesson focuses on the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution requiring a photo ID to vote. There is a brief discussion of the values of voting and democracy in general, the law as it currently exists, voter ID laws in others states; asking students if they are willing to share their voter ID status and what that means to them, and finally discussing the amendment. Because of the binary nature of the topic, it is well suited for a snap debate exercise. At the end of the period, the whole class will vote on their opinions of the amendment and discuss their reasoning.
The goals of this exercise are as follows:
- Consider the greater values of democracy and evaluate which is the greater threat to a democracy: voter fraud or lack of voter participation
- Educate students on the arguments for and against the proposed constitutional amendment and the wisdom of those arguments. This lesson is designed for a high school class where many of the students will be eligible to vote for or against the amendment in November.
- Get students to think of arguments for a side regardless of whether they agree with it. This is an important skill because it broadens thinking, and also enables students to more fully defend their views having considered what those who think differently will say.