NEW ULM - Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), one of the chief authors of the Voter ID constitutional amendment, visited New Ulm on Thursday as part of her tour to promote the measure.
The Voter ID amendment will be up for Minnesota voeters' approval on the November ballot. The amendment would require voters to show a photo ID to vote in elections, along with creating provisional balloting for voters that register that day.
Kiffmeyer argued that the amendment is essential to maintain the validity of final election results in the state. She was unable to source her numbers during the interview, but Kiffmeyer argued that Minnesota had the highest amount of voter fraud convictions in the country, saying there were approximately 113 voter fraud convictions resulting from the 2008 elections. She also cited that approximately 500,000 of Minnesota's over 3 million registered voters were same-day registration voters in 2008. She said 6,224 remain unreachable and unaccounted for -?with problems like invalid addressest. There is no method to determine whether any of those voters were fraudulent or whether they were simply not followed up on. Kiffmeyer that the simple possibility that voter fraud could exist in those number causes her serious concern.
"It's incredible to me, the number of people that have the expectation that they can just come in without anything and vote," said Kiffmeyer.
Kiffmeyer moved on to say she completely rejects the notion that Voter ID will disenfranchise voters, even though the amendment is designed to put tighter restrictions on voting. She argued that no court has yet determined voter disenfranchisement in other states with similar measures, and that the inclusion of provisional ballots in the amendment actually increase Minnesotans' ability to vote.
She did not directly answer the question of whether the possibility of disenfranchising even one legitimate voter outweighed any amount of voter fraud. However, she said that she worked hard to get provisional balloting in the amendment because of how highly she valued people's right to vote.
When asked whether an amendment was the best method for pursuing concerns over voter fraud, Kiffmeyer said her Voter ID bill last year was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. She said that when she saw U.S Attorney-General Eric Holder challenging Voter ID laws in other states for conflict with respective state constitutions, she decided that a constitutional amendment was the best way to guarantee the law would not be struck down.
Kiffmeyer was also asked about the large cost of overhauling the state voting system if the amendment is approved. She said a great deal of the final cost were yet to be settled. She said that she anticipated the restructuring of proving a ballot's validity from the back-end to the up-front at voting locations would cover the majority of the cost through savings.
Kiffmeyer concluded her visit by stating she was very optimistic that the amendment will pass this November election.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org