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Goodhue And Hubbard Join List Of Minnesota Counties Worried About Cost, Effects Of Photo ID Amendment

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 17, 2012

Add Goodhue and Hubbard Counties to the list of Minnesota counties whose elections officials are worried sick about the cost and the effects of the Photo ID amendment the state GOP shoved onto the November ballot.

From Goodhue County, via the Red Wing Republican Eagle — and emphases are mine:

1. All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot.

For a good many people, this would be an easy task. Simply pull out your driver’s license and present it to the election judges on Election Day when you visit your polling place.

However, how would absentee voters meet this requirement? This group of voters includes our military personnel serving overseas, nursing home residents, shut-ins, hospitalized citizens, “snowbirds”, and college students.

In states that already have photo ID requirements, there are a variety of exemptions to help accommodate these types of voters. Minnesota’s proposed amendment has no exceptions so we assume this requirement would apply to “all voters.”

Another item to note, a “government-issued” ID differs from a “government-approved” ID. This means that many of the college ID’s acceptable under today’s registration methods may no longer be considered government issued.

2. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section.

There are two cost factors to consider with this proposal: 1) the bill paid by the state on behalf of all taxpayers and 2) the expenses incurred by individuals during this process.

Databases show there are 215,000 current voters without Minnesota-issued IDs or whose ID has the wrong address. All of these individuals may quality for a free state-provided ID but more than likely, they would incur some expenses to obtain the documents needed for them to get this ID — including birth certificates and marriage licenses. Some voters who were born before birth certificates became commonly available may find this process expensive or impossible.

3. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.

If you come to the polls on Election Day without your ID, this section of the amendment would still allow you to cast a ballot, now called a “provisional ballot.”

A provisional ballot is not counted on Election Day but instead is placed in an identifying envelope, deposited in a separate ballot box, transported to a central location (most likely your county seat), and then stored for a certain number of pre-determined days. If during this timeframe, the voter presents a valid government-issued photo identification, the ballot would then be counted. If the voter fails to come in or misses the deadline, the vote would not count.

Nationwide studies show that about one-third of provisional ballots are never counted.

The entire provisional process would be new to Minnesota and would require legislative direction. There would be startup costs for both the state and local governments.

With provisional balloting, there is also the potential that election results may be delayed until the end of the provisional voting period. Some of this uncertainty is dependent on how many provisional ballots are submitted and later counted.

4. All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.

This eligibility verification section is perhaps the most complicated part of this amendment. Minnesota voters voting absentee from another state or country would have to have their identity verified in a way that is substantially equivalent to the voter who hands their photo ID to an election judge in the polling place.

As election officials we are not sure how this would work. We also know of no other state that requires their military or civilian absentee voters to meet this type of requirement.

This section would also end same-day registration as we know it.

Under current law, you can come in to the polls on Election Day, register to vote and your votes are immediately counted. Under the proposed amendment, your registration information would need to be verified for accuracy in the same way as those who submitted registration forms prior to Election Day. These computer-driven eligibility verifications are currently not available in the polling place, so same-day registrants would be required to submit provisional ballots in the same manner as those who did not have a valid photo ID.

From Hubbard County, via the Park Rapids Enterprise:

Minnesota’s proposed Voter ID law, which recent polls suggest could pass handily, will have unintended consequences and unanticipated costs for Hubbard County.

“I think they’re going to be astonished at what this could cost us,” Auditor-Treasurer Pam Heeren said, admitting, “there’s so many unknowns it’s hard for us to put a price on it.”

But the cost will not only entail dollars spent on elections but for delays in vote tabulation with possible challenges (think of an interminable Franken-Coleman court battle) and a possible decline in the number of citizens willing to serve as election judges.

In a county predominantly populated by senior citizens, those against the amendment say some voters could be disenfranchised if someone no longer drives or has the paperwork to get a government issued ID card.

And that’s just the start of it.

The amendment would mandate that counties purchase electronic poll books, which are fancy laptops, at between $1700 and $4000 each — and which would have to be replaced every three to four years, thus making these ongoing expenditures for counties already hit hard by GOP-mandated cutbacks.

All so ALEC and their Republican office boys and girls can try to keep suspected Democrats from voting.

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