According to state law, American Indians cannot use tribal identification (ID) cards to register to vote in Hennepin County. County election officials are concerned that American Indians know what documents to bring Nov. 2 to successfully register to vote on Election Day, says Pat O’Connor, director of Hennepin County Taxpayer Services.
“We’re concerned that American Indian Hennepin County residents might assume tribal ID is enough to register to vote,” says O’Connor. “According to a recent memo issued by the secretary of state, Minnesota law stipulates that tribal ID only can be used by tribal band members living on an Indian reservation. Hennepin County has no Indian reservation, so tribal ID cannot be used. At best, the statute is confusing,” says O’Connor. “We had to spend quite a bit of time looking at it. It appears there may even be a fluke in the way the statute is worded — according to the memo from the secretary of state, the statute states that – ‘for tribal band members living on an Indian reservation, an individual may prove residence … by presenting an identification card issued by the tribal government’.” But the law goes on to state the card must include a street address. Tribal IDs don’t include a street address. The law may need to be changed. “To register to vote, there are two main requirements — you must establish your identity and have proof of where you live — something with an address,” says O’Connor.
“Our main concern, no matter what current statute says, is that every eligible citizen is able to vote, and that no eligible voter shows up on Election Day and is turned away because they don’t have valid ID.” Although tribal IDs cannot be used, O’Connor says other forms of documentation can be used. They must include a valid photo ID (to establish identity) and proof of residence, such as: A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit or receipt with current address. A valid Minnesota ID card issued by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (or receipt) with valid address. Current student ID card, fee statement or copy of student registration card, with valid address. Existing registration in the same precinct, under a different address. Notice of late registration from county auditor or municipal clerk. Someone already registered to vote in the precinct who will vouch that you live there. If you don’t have one piece of documentation that has both your photo ID and current address (for example, you’ve moved and your license shows an old address), you can pair up other forms of photo ID and proof of residence, such as: A driver’s license (with an old address) and a utility bill (due within 30 days of Election Day) with your name and current address. A U.S. passport or U.S. military ID card and a utility bill. For more information on registering to vote in Hennepin County, call the Hennepin County Elections Division: 612-348-5151.
Contacts: Pat O’Connor, Taxpayer Services: 612-348-4084. Carol Arnold, Public Affairs: 612-348-8536.