Election officials in Goodhue and Hubbard Counties share their concerns about the passage of the photo ID amendment in the Red Wing Republican Eagle and the Park Rapids Enterprise. Elsewhere, Firedoglake and Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog (via FDL) have picked up on Gustavus professor Max Hailperin's post, Center of the American Experiment's claims for photo ID cost savings are deeply flawed.
Southeast Minnesota: Goodhue County
Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, is fast approaching. The national conventions are over, the newspapers and radio stations are inundated with campaign ads, yard signs are popping up, and your mail box is getting full.
You will be asked to vote on a number of different topics this year, one of which is whether or not the Minnesota Constitution should be amended to require voters to present photo identification. Since the language that would be added to our state Constitution is more extensive than the amendment question, we thought it would be helpful to outline the question for you in more detail.
The following is the question that will appear on your ballot:
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”
If passed, the Minnesota Constitution would be amended as follows:
• All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. 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. 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.
• 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.
To fully understand what this means for voters, we will break this language into four sections. . . .
Read their explication at the Red Wing Republican Eagle. These are substantial changes and concerns. The women do not take a position onf the amendment:
As county election officials it is not our role to take a formal position on any question. It is our responsibility to administer elections in compliance with all applicable laws as well as help educate voters.
We hope we have provided you with some good information and encourage you to continue your research. Additional materials on this topic can be found on our county website at www.co.goodhue.mn.us.
We urge everyone to take time in the next 55 days to become more familiar with all of the candidates and questions that will appear on your ballot. Remember to vote Nov. 6!.
North Central Minnesota: Hubbard County
Hubbard County Auditor-Treasurer Pam Heeren, on the othher hand, focuses on cost. In the Park Rapid Enterprise, staff writer sarah Smith reports in Voter ID law could cost Hubbard County:
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.
Heeren takes no official position on the amendment, but agreed it has a good chance of passing, from information she’s heard....
Heeren worries about the costs of provisional ballots and electronic poll books, and the toll on election judges. Smith reports:
And in a county where it’s been difficult to recruit election judges, Heeren worries the new law, if passed, could dampen enthusiasm for working elections.
Election judges nowadays are predominantly senior citizens. Will they embrace new tabulating technology and procedures to verify the credentials of those who want to vote?
Should the additional responsibilities be thrust upon them?
So far, Hubbard County has been an easy, cordial place to vote. In a county where everyone knows almost everyone else, the voucher system works well.
“Now they’re saying it won’t affect mail balloting, they’re saying with the rules right now mail balloting would have to be abolished because you can’t verify the identity, so there’s so many unknowns at this point it’s hard to say,” she said.
What percent of the vote that could disenfranchise is unknown.
Heeren said auditors don’t stay up nights worrying about the new law especially as they prepare for the 2012 general elections.
“But I do think it’s going to surprise us, how expensive it’s going to get, depending on some of the requirements,” she said in a warning to Hubbard County residents
Hailperin analysis gains traction
Over at Firedoglake, Phoenix Woman writes in Come Saturday Morning: Minnesota Republicans Panicking as More County Clerks Compare Notes on Horrific Costs and Hassles of Photo ID Amendment:
Word is starting to get around in Minnesota, both from outside and inside the state, of the horrific costs and problems faced by local governments whose states enact the various ALEC-inspired “Voter ID” photo ID legislative disasters . . .. . .But when the fact that it stands to ruin the budgets of dozens of Minnesota counties gets publicly aired by a growing number of local media outlets, that’s when the Republicans get worried.
How worried are they? They turned to some of the more respectable attack dogs in their kennels, the folks running the Center of the American Experiment, to try and soothe county governments’ fears on the costs of the proposed amendment. Unfortunately for them, the CAE’s math is on a par with Paul Ryan’s in terms of worthlessness, as Max Hailperin points out in a guest post at greater Minnesota blog Bluestem Prairie: . . .
The title is a bit off by lumping together county auditors with county clerks, but close enough. The FDL post in its turn has been picked up by Rick Hasen's Election Law blog.