To the editor:
On Wednesday Feb. 1 I watched the five-hour long Senate committee meeting on the Photo ID constitutional amendment. I came away with some interesting information.
At this time the Senate doesn't know what a required Photo ID will be, that will be left to a future legislature to decide. (Last year Governor Dayton vetoed what would have been the strictest voter Photo ID requirement in the United States it would have only allowed a government issued Photo ID). IF a Photo ID amendment would pass, a "future legislature" would have free reign in deciding what could be acceptable and what would not be acceptable as a Photo ID.
We, the taxpayers of Minnesota, would have to pay for the "free" Photo ID. We would be responsible for the costs of: 1) The initial Photo ID for each person in Minnesota. 2) Creating and implementing a provisional ballot system. 3) Educating the public and election staff about the Photo ID requirement and provisional ballots. 4) We would need more election judges at the polls on Election Day to process the Photo ID and the provisional ballots. (The estimated the total cost would reach $58.8 million). 5) There would be additional costs to each individual for secondary documents needed to obtain a Photo ID such as birth certificates and marriage licenses. (When these documents are obtained we can only hope that the name has always been spelled correctly).
A Photo ID requirement is not necessary as no one in Minnesota has ever been convicted of voter impersonation. This is the only thing that a Photo ID would prevent. Photo ID would not stop voter fraud as found in Indiana which has a Photo ID requirement when the Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was recently convicted of six felony charges for voter fraud. The only convictions for voter fraud in Minnesota were due to felons who voted before their civil rights were restored. Since a person's criminal status is not on a Photo ID a Photo ID requirement would not address this problem. An easier and less expensive fix would be to simply inform the felon that his voting rights have been taken away and will be restored when their probationary period is over. It has been stated that a person is more likely to be struck by lightening than to commit voter fraud.
A Photo ID requirement will cost the state millions and millions of dollars. People I've spoken to are more concerned about money for the schools; many schools are contemplating four-day schedules because of budget shortfalls. People talk about the need for jobs, for better roads, and tax relief, among other needs. I can't say I've heard anyone tell me there is a need for a Photo ID requirement to vote. Not even the candidates in the last election addressed the need for a Photo ID.
A Photo ID requirement is a solution in search of a problem. The millions and millions of dollars the State doesn't have could be spent in more constructive ways. Perhaps our Representatives should start working on the real problems that are facing Minnesota instead of the smoke screen they have been presenting to us.
Mary Lou Bonnifield
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