Monthly Archives

November 2008

Election Integrity

By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20, Le Sueur County, Rice County, Sibley County | No Comments

In light of the Franken and Coleman voter recount, many have called for a more stringent voter registration process, including requiring photo IDs to vote and eliminating same day voter registration. I believe the current system supports election integrity and ensures our citizens every opportunity to fully participate in our democracy.

Minnesota has had a long tradition of clean elections with very few instances of voter fraud. The requirement of photo identification could possibly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legally-registered voters in this state. The Secretary of State’s Office currently estimates that there are 135,000 senior citizens in the state that don’t have a state driver’s license or a Minnesota ID card. In addition, such a change could also have a negative impact on the voting rights of students and minorities.

The requirement to limit the time an individual has for registration could have an alarming effect on voter participation. Currently, Minnesota allows registration on Election Day if an individual can provide specific legal documentation of their residence in their precinct, or they may have an already qualified registered voter vouch for their residence. People who register on Election Day do so for a varying number of reasons, including recently moving to a new residence. I do not believe that anyone should be disenfranchised from their legal right to vote simply because of moving or economic hardship. Citizens should all be allowed to vote as long as they meet the state’s legal requirement to do so.

Under current Minnesota law any individual who commits voter fraud, such as voting more than once, misrepresenting their identity in applying for a ballot, or aiding someone who is not eligible to vote, is guilty of a felony. This represents a strong deterrent to individuals who attempt to subvert the election process.

In 2006, five non citizens were found to have voted in Minnesota. They were removed from the rolls, their votes were stricken, and three were referred to the county prosecutor’s office for prosecution. In the entire United States, the Department of Justice charged 89 individuals with voter fraud between October 2002 and August 2005. During that same time period, 196,139,871 voters cast a ballot. This amounts to a minuscule voter fraud percentage.

The laws are in place and being followed and enforced. The good news is that our election judges and others do a great deal of work to ensure there is no fraud and that every vote counts.

As a life-long Civics teacher, I have always supported initiatives to maintain verification of registration applications and integrity in the voting process. Minnesota has a long history of strong voter participation and a longer history of honest and clean elections. After this recount, I trust Minnesota’s reputation in that regard will remain untarnished.

Beyond the Speech

By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

Last week we were discussing the elements of persuasion in my Social Psychology class at Northfield High School. A passage from the text written by Professor David Myers of Hope College reminds us how important it is to consider the many facets of a political or persuasive speech: the message, how it is said, to whom it is said, and the context by which it is delivered.

Imagine the following scene: I.M. Wright, a middle-aged American, is watching the evening news. In the first segment, a small group of radicals is shown burning an American flag. As they do, one shouts through a bullhorn that whenever any government becomes oppressive, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it… is their right, it their duty, to throw off such government!” Angered, Mr. Wright mutters to his wife. “It’s sickening to hear them spouting that Communist line.” In the next segment, a Congressional candidate speaking before an anti-tax rally declares, “Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all government workers that corruption and waste are very great crimes.” An obviously pleased Mr. Wright relaxes and smiles: “Now that’s the kind of good sense we need. That’s my kind of guy.”

Now switch the scene. Imagine Mr. Wright hearing the same revolutionary line about “the right of the people” at a July 4 oration of the Declaration of Independence (from which the line comes) and hearing a Communist speaker read the thrift sentence from Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (from which it comes). Would he react differently?

I hope that as we reflect on the long campaign season just completed and as we gear up for the next legislative session let’s remind ourselves of the importance of realizing just how much our preconceptions can guide our perceptions. Not everyone has a hidden agenda. Good, open, and honest discussion of the issues may be… just that.

Obama’s Message: Unity, Hope, & Taking Responsibility

By | Economy, Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20, Le Sueur County, Rice County, Scott County, Sibley County | No Comments
  • “I ask you to believe - to believe in yourselves, in each other and in the future we can build together. Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Now when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save…”
  • “We can do this. American’s have done this before…”
  • “Now it falls to us. Together we cannot fail. Together, we can overcome the broken policies and divided politics of the last eight years…”
  • “We can do this if we come together; if we have confidence in ourselves and each other; if we look beyond the darkness of the day to the bright light of hope that lies ahead. Together we can change this country and change this world.”
  • “It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”
  • “This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.” - Barack Obama, President-Elect


By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln called democracy “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” It means that we are not here to serve our government, but that our government is here to serve us - and we have the right to decide who will represent us and how we want to be represented. It means that we have one of the greatest rights any free people can have: the right to vote.

Voting is a right that, throughout history, many have fought for and sacrificed everything to achieve. It’s a right that people continue to fight for and that millions of people throughout the world still do not enjoy.  As Americans, we have the great privilege to live in a free society.   Voting is the right that helps us maintain that freedom.

A representative democracy is not truly representative unless everyone participates.  Exercise your right to vote.  Let’s show the nation, once again, that Minnesotans takes this responsibility seriously.