A friend in Rock County sent links to two pieces about the voter suppression amendment published in the latest Luverne's Rock County Star Herald. The first is an in-depth feature about the cost of implement the amendment should it pass, while the second is an editorial suggesting that requiring photo ID is an expensive solution looking for a problem.
In Vote yes or no? Voters encouraged to weigh cost of state voter ID amendment, Star Herald editor Lori Ehde explores the issue:
Participants in the 2012 general election will be asked to answer a ballot question about changing Minnesota’s voting process.
The question is, "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?" Yes or no? . . .
What will it cost?
For local election officials who would need to implement a new voting system, it’s not about GOP or DFL, it’s about what would be accomplished at what cost.
In Rock County, a general election currently costs about $50,000, according to Rock County Auditor Ashley Kurtz.
If the Constitutional amendment is approved, Rock County elections will cost nearly $100,000. And that’s only after the first year implementation costs of $185,000, by Kurtz’s estimates. . . .
What will it mean?
From the outset, she said, it appears as though there would be no more mail balloting.
Rock County currently has five mail ballot precincts, which originally chose to move to mail balloting because they did not have facilities available to serve polling places that were accessible to voters with disabilities.
The voter ID amendment would eliminate mail balloting and these precincts would be required to re-establish polling places and would incur the costs associated with that.
The estimated cost per mail-in precinct is $19,500, so in Rock County the cost would be $97,500. . .
What will it fix?
At first glance, Kurtz said it sounds like a good idea to have all voters present a valid photo identification to vote.
“And I don't think that any election administrator would disagree with that,” Kurtz said, emphasizing that the unknown details and unknown costs are the cause of concern. . . .
. . .She said the same-day registration is reliable, because the information provided is cross-checked through several databases. In Rock County there has never been a case where a same-day registrant was discovered to be ineligible.
In the editorial, Implementing voter ID amendment will create taxpayer expense, the Star Herald editors note:
Minnesota voters across the state will be asked on Nov. 6 whether or not they support a constitutional amendment that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.
. . . It’s an expensive solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist.
Minnesota has the lowest rate of voter fraud in the nation, and the highest rate of voter turnout.
If fraud were a problem, then this Constitutional amendment would be a good idea, but it’s not.
The type of fraud most commonly caught by our current system of safeguards is a felon voting before his or her rights are restored. This fraud wouldn’t be fixed with a photo ID, since an ID wouldn’t identify the person as a felon at the polls. . . .
In Rock County it’s never happened. And none of the same-day voter registrations have ever turned out to be ineligible in Rock County. Ever.
Metro areas with same-day voter eligibility issues report ineligible felons — not impersonation that would be caught by a photo ID.
Is it really worth spending millions to revamp 150 years of Minnesota voter integrity?
Local election officials are tallying the costs of the measure, should it be approved. . . .
The Star Herald encourages its voting readers to research the ballot question beyond political bias — from both parties — before answering the question on the ballot.
And then, consider whether the benefits of the Voter ID would outweigh the costs.
Or, in other words, consider if the system isn’t broken, should we pay to “fix” it?
Pick up a copy of the paper or subscribe online. The voter suppression amendment may seem like common-sense, but when we dig deeper, it looks more like expensive nonsense.
Chart: the ballot question, the amendment, and the consequences.