On Friday, Bluestem asked Can Greater Minnesota afford the unfunded mandate that is the photo ID amendment?
FDN: Cost to Rice County
Faribault Daily News staff reporter Joseph Lindberg reports in Pricetag for voter ID in Rice County could surpass $120,000:
If Minnesota voters this November approve a constitutional amendment requiring a valid photo ID to cast a ballot, the equipment election officials would use to verify voter data could cost more than $120,000 in Rice County alone.
Electronic “pollbooks,” a term that generally refers to hardware and software used to process voter information, would likely be used at the county’s 31 voting precincts at an estimated cost of $4,000 each, according to Fran Windschitl, Rice County auditor/treasurer. . . . .
The county’s cost hinges on how much time the amendment, if passed, would give counties to process provisional ballots cast by those who don’t bring ID to the polling place but cast a vote and verify their personal data later.
Even if a longer time period is approved — other states range from three to 14 days — and pollbooks aren’t needed, the staff time to process ballots would be considerable, Windschitl said.
The county’s tax levy in 2011 raised $18 million. A 1 percent property tax increase would raise $180,000. The county’s levy increased 1.7 for the 2012 budget year, according to county documents.
County lobbyists see the amendment as yet another mandate, even if grants are offered to help counties cover costs.
“It will add duties to the auditor treasurer, more work will have to be done by your staff and it will also delay counts on close elections,” said Keith Carlson, executive director of the Minnesota Inter-County Association.
Lindberg cites one amendment supporter who says no cost is too great to "ensure elections remain free of fraud, no matter how minor it may seem." Read the whole article at the FDN.
The photo ID amendment would be costly, especially in areas of rural Minnesota that now conduct election by mail because of sparse population spread across wide areas, and another mandate for cash-strapped counties and townships. Given that voting would be made more difficult--and that the amendment doesn't address the problem of felons voting before they're eligible to regain this right--the measure doesn't make sense.
The irony of ALEC-induced amendments
Earlier this summer, Bluestem noted that in 2009, former governor Tim Pawlenty had vetoed practical election reform legislation that addressed the problem of felons voting:
[Secretary of State Mark] Ritchie has asked for legislative relief in the past. From a 2009 press release:
ST PAUL, Minn.-March 20, 2009-Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today announced that his legislative proposals would strengthen Minnesota's election system by making use of state and federal databases. Technological advances would allow the state to largely prevent those who are not eligible from registering or voting before elections take place.
"Individuals who are not eligible to vote should not be registered or able to cast ballots. The legislation passed by the House State and Local Government Committee yesterday would authorize our office to use a variety of federal and state databases to ensure that our elections laws are enforced," Ritchie explained.
The legislation Ritchie proposes would allow the Office of the Secretary of State to compare new voter registration applicants against the Minnesota Department of Corrections' list of felons, so that ineligible individuals can be identified and flagged. It would also give legal authority to this office to compare the statewide voter registration list against the Social Security death registry to identify Minnesota voters who died while outside of the state. Finally, the legislation gives authority to the Office of the Secretary of State to check the citizenship status of voters using data maintained by the Department of Public Safety.
"This is not a new issue, but we are taking a new approach to it. For example, historical data indicates that 70 felons may have voted in the 2004 presidential elections and 61 may have voted in 2008. I do not know what action was taken in 2004, but under my administration, we have moved swiftly to notify county attorneys of all individuals who may have voted illegally and they are now investigating each incident. These types of cross-checks would make it easier to prevent those who are not eligible from casting a ballot in the first place" added Ritchie.
Another example of the importance of this new legislation is the ability to identify and remove from the voter rolls individuals who are not in Minnesota at the time of their death. By doing electronic data matching with the national death registry maintained by the Social Security Administration we ensure that Minnesota's voter registration lists are up-to-date at all times.
The proposed measures are part of the office's comprehensive legislative package to modernize voter registration, which is currently moving through the legislature as House File 1053 and Senate File 660.
Mary Kiffmeyer, one of the founders of Minnesota Majority, [chief mover on the amendment], was serving her first term in the Minnesota House when HF 1053 came up for a vote. What did she have to say about implementing the technology that would actually deal with felons voting? (Again, not a problem solved by asking for a driver's license). Here's what she said about an oral amendment offered by Laura Brod:
From the description:
Mary Kiffmeyer, former Secretary of State and executive director of Minnesota Majority, said in 2009 that it would be too expensive to ask the Department of Corrections to produce electronic data on convicted felons to the Secretary of State.
Section 9 dealt with automatic motor voter registration, substituting an opt out system for the current opt-in provision, but Kiffmeyer's objection had to do with the supposed cost of constructing data systems to prevent felons and non-citizens from voting. Sections 6,7, and 8 of the bill would have required monthly review of data by the appropriate departments to make sure that people registering were eligible.
This is a surprising argument from a supporter of "voting integrity," because we're told repeatedly that no cost is too great to the counties and townships to prevent voter impersonation by requiring a government-issued PhotoID to vote.
What happened to the bill? It passed both chambers, though Mary Kiffmeyer voted against it, then Governor Pawlenty vetoed it.
The Associated Press reported in MN drivers won't get automatic voter registration:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Friday vetoed a bill that would have automatically signed up Minnesota driver's license applicants to vote.
The move means those applying for or renewing driver's licenses and state-issued IDs will still have to check a box to register to vote, instead of being automatically enrolled as voters if they were eligible.
"Registering to vote should be a voluntary, intentional act," the Republican governor's veto message said.
The change was pushed by Democrats including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who said it would have streamlined bureaucracy for voters and saved time and money for local governments that process voter registrations. Ritchie claimed it would cut the number of Election Day registrations by as much as 75 percent.
A spokesman for Ritchie said neither Ritchie nor his staff were available to comment.
Rep. Steve Simon, the bill's House sponsor, said it also would have improved the integrity of Minnesota's voter records by giving Ritchie's office access to Social Security death records and requiring more extensive reporting from the state Department of Corrections on felons who aren't allowed to vote.
He said the changes would have minimized improprieties by ideologically motivated organizations that register voters.
"I wish some of this other stuff hadn't been vetoed," said Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park. . . .
Why did Republicans think software upgrades necessary for voter integrity were too costly? What was the delay in adopting routine and regular facial recognition software scans in the DVM's database?
The smart choice in November? A no vote on the Photo Id Amendment. Consider putting a Vote No sign on your yard or wearing a button from the folks at Our Vote Our Future.
Photos: The Rice County Courthouse (above); Mary Kiffmeyer's War on Voters (below).