With the exception of several of the United States, every industrialized democracy requires ID to vote.
Fraud is everywhere in modern life. Our votes control trillions of dollars and unfathomable political power. Minnesota's loose election system doesn't inspire confidence in the electoral process, and thus, our government.
Showing ID is part of everyday life. Without ID, you can't buy certain cold medicines or drop off leaves for composting. You can't visit a doctor without some form of photo ID under Obamacare.
These requirements are for fraud and crime prevention. Isn't protecting your ballot at least as important as protecting the compost site from out of town leaves?
Generally, showing ID is a trivial matter for people of all ages, races, genders and incomes, but some small number of people lack current photo ID. Doubtless, the provision of free ID will benefit people in more ways than just voting.
Voter ID accomplishes four things: It requires voters to show government-issued photo ID ; requires the state to provide free ID; requires voters to be treated equally; allows unprepared voters a second chance with a provisional ballot. Anything else you may hear about it is speculation, at best. If it isn't in the amendment, it's not based on facts or reality.
As part of its election coverage, The Journal has asked representatives of groups supporting and those opposing Minnesota's two constitutional amendments to present their arguments for and against the issue. Today, Dan McGrath of Protect My Vote, and Tim Penny, representing Our Vote, Our Fuutre,, present the pros and cons on Minnesota's Voter ID Amendment.
Let's debunk some common myths:
Myth: Senior citizens, students, minorities and soldiers won't be able to vote
The amendment requires equal treatment for all. It also requires the state to provide free ID. People who lack vital documents, like birth certificates, can still get IDs using an existing variance process.
Non-driving seniors are entitled to free ID that never expires.
Students have ID. You can't take the ACT or SAT without it.
Thinking that a person's skin-tone somehow affects their ability to get ID is pure ignorance.
Soldiers have ID. They can't be deployed without it. Military ID is government-issued photo ID, meeting the requirements of the amendment.
Myth: Voter ID is expensive and will raise property taxes
The Voter ID amendment contains only one specified expense: "The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter."
The opponents of Voter ID incorrectly claim that provisional ballots and possible new technology to verify eligibility will dramatically increase local costs. They claim that precincts that vote by mail-in ballots will have to convert to in-person polling places. All of these claims are demonstrably false.
Indiana, has a similar voting population to Minnesota. Theirs is supposedly the nation's "strictest voter ID law." In 2008, Indiana had fewer than 4,000 provisional ballots. Minnesota has 4,103 voting precincts. If Minnesota's experience is similar to Indiana's and the 43 other states that use provisional ballots, we can expect less than one provisional ballot per precinct. Provisional ballots work like absentee ballots. How much can that cost?
Some say provisional ballots would require 2 additional paid election judges in each precinct - to babysit one provisional ballot for 13 hours? The ACLU's lobbyist even suggested building additional rooms to accommodate provisional ballots in a recent debate. Government efficiency at its finest.
Replacing our antiquated paper rolls with an electronic pollbook is a potential cost driver. But, pollbooks are coming to Minnesota with or without Voter ID. They're already testing them in Minnetonka.
Pollbooks aren't a matter of "if," but "when." We'll pay for them and then, they'll pay for themselves through improved accuracy and efficiency.
Mail ballot precincts aren't affected by Voter ID. Mail-in ballots are essentially absentee ballots. They'll require an ID number on the signature envelope. ID numbers are good enough for credit card transactions. They'll be good enough for voting.
Myth: Election Day Registration eliminated or radically altered
Election Day registrants will barely notice a change under the amendment. It doesn't envision provisional ballots for anything other than people who lack ID. The language is clear: "A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot."
Provisional ballots are not tied to eligibility. Voters will be instantly verified as eligible in the polling place. The databases required for this requirement already exist, but aren't being applied equally.
Some speculate on possible future legislation. Our next legislature can pass any bill it likes, subject to veto by Governor Dayton, with or without the amendment. Whether it passes or not, election reforms are coming to the legislature. Any such reforms will have to be bipartisan. For some, access is their priority. For others, integrity is the priority, but it doesn't need to be one or the other. With the Voter ID amendment, we'll have both. It will be easy to vote, but hard to cheat.