Driver’s License for All relieves families from burden, voter fraud remains primary concern among opposers
Minnesota’s Driver’s License for All law went into effect Sunday, which means about 81,000 immigrants can now get a state-issued ID.
Supporters of the new law say this will remove some of the barriers people face when they don’t have identification, but others voiced concerns over the chance for fraud.
On Monday, DVS centers across Minnesota were packed as people took steps to get their driver’s licenses for the first time. Jovita Franciso Morales recently passed her knowledge test — he says it has been 20 years in the making.
“I don’t need to go wash my clothing by walking or I don’t need to go to the grocery store by walking or I don’t need to suffer in the winter waiting,” said Francisco Morales.
The Driver’s License for All legislation eliminates the requirement for a legal residence to obtain a driver’s license.
Eduardo Penasco with COPAL, an organization that helps Latinos, says they offer classes every week to help people study for the driver’s license exams. They’re also in the process of becoming a proctored exam site to help immigrants get in sooner.
“We don’t just have the capability to just go and drive like anybody else,” Penasco said. “And the possibility that you can get a better job because you have a driver’s license.”
Last week, MN Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson said the change will not only increase equity but it will make the road safer.
“Because licensed drivers must demonstrate their familiarity of driving laws by passing the knowledge and driving exams,” said Jacobson.
While MN GOP Chair David Hann says most people, including himself, are not opposed to people getting driver’s licenses who are not citizens, the new law has sparked looming concern over voter fraud.
“How does anyone have an assurance that we’re not opening the door for 81,000 voters who are not citizens to become participants in our election?” said Hann.
Currently, the licenses do not identify whether someone is a citizen or not.
“When we do things like this, that makes it very very difficult to validate that someone is a citizen. If they produce a driver’s license at a polling place on the day of an election, that presumption is going to be that they’re a citizen eligible to vote if they have an address that places them in the precinct where they’re voting,” said Hann.
“We are coming to work and do good things. So, we are always fighting this stereotype that we are doing something wrong,” Penasco responded.
While it could be months before Francisco Morales will get her driver’s license, she says it’s a day to celebrate.
“It’s freedom. It’s relief, the pain that we were carrying,” she said.
DVS officials will be adding more staff to meet the demand. They have also increased the number of languages for the knowledge test, which includes audio.