I’ve not been very interested in or informed about the Voter ID debate thus far, but now that we citizens will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment this fall, it’s time to try to get smarter about it.
Randy Maluchnik, Carver County commissioner and president of the Association of Minnesota Counties, had a commentary in last week’s Strib titled Let serious debate begin on voter ID that I found to be a good starting point. Two excerpts summarize the partisan divide:
Opponents of the voter ID proposal accused supporters of disenfranchising seniors, college students, minorities and the poor. Proponents suggested that their opponents were simply trying to protect an election system fraught with fraud and open to manipulation. The hyperpartisan rhetoric did little to help inform public opinion…
The debate ended the way it began. Republicans called it a common-sense measure to tighten up Minnesota’s voting system and make sure voters are who they say they are. DFLers said the requirement would not prevent the tiny amount of fraud that exists but may erect barriers to certain voters and throw a bombshell into Minnesota’s popular election-day registration system.
Maluchnik’s concerns about costs:
If approved, this constitutional amendment would require the state to spend millions to provide free IDs to thousands of Minnesotans and to educate citizens on the state’s new voting requirements.
In addition, local governments would need to implement provisional balloting, a process that allows voters who arrive at the polls without an ID to cast a ballot that would be counted only if they subsequently provided the necessary identification. This process would require local governments to print special ballots, purchase new equipment, hire and train additional election judges, and pay for storage and security of provisional ballots. Studies have shown that implementing a provisional balloting process will cost local governments — and, in turn, property-tax payers — millions of dollars every election season.