Impact of Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Elections
The proposed amendment will make changes in how we vote, who gets to vote, and in the cost of elections. Here is the full text of the proposed amendment.
“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.”[i]To fully understand the impacts and the costs of the changes being proposed, it is useful to break the proposed amendment into sections:
1. “All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot.”
In all other states, photo ID legislation has included a wide variety of exemptions ranging from military voters and people with religious objections to being photographed like the Amish, to people with disabilities and nursing home residents. Since, no exceptions are included in this proposal, it will apply to “all voters”. Since this language would now be in the Constitution, it could not be changed by any further legislature.[ii] The requirement that the ID must be “government-issued” instead of “government-approved” means that certain forms of ID which are now permitted would no longer be acceptable, including those IDs issued to students from private colleges (Bethel, St. Olaf, etc.). There was a bi-partisan proposal to permit the future use of new technologies to identify voters, but it was rejected. The result is that if the amendment is adopted Minnesota would not be authorized to use more modern means of identification.
2. “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.”
There are two cost factors to all photo ID proposals – the bill paid by taxpayers and the expenses paid by each individual who does not currently have a valid ID that would allow them to vote. In Indiana, a state of similar size that recently adopted an ID law; it cost the state $10 million in the first three years to provide IDs.[iii] The Minnesota Division of Vehicle Services estimates that there are 144,000 voting age Minnesotans without IDs.[iv] A comparison of databases showed that there are 215,000 current voters without Minnesota-issued IDs or whose ID has the wrong address[v]—all of whom may quality for a free ID. Beyond this on-going cost to the government, all of these individuals without IDs will have to pay the expenses to obtain the documents needed to get an ID - including birth certificates and marriage licenses for women who have changed their names. Some voters born before birth certificates became commonly available may find this process expensive or impossible.
3. “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.”
If you do not have an ID with you on Election Day, you could submit a provisional ballot, which would be filled out but not counted on Election Day. You would need to go to the local election’s office and show officials your ID within a few days so that your ballot could be reviewed for possible inclusion, assuming you can find your ID or obtain a new one. Nationwide 30% of provisional ballots are never counted.[vi] Since Minnesota does not currently have provisional balloting, there would be startup costs to local and state agencies of $50 million[vii] and additional on-going costs for local governments of over $10 million that would need to be paid through local taxes. Adopting this new provisional balloting system would trigger oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Help America Vote Act. Election results would be delayed until the end of the provisional voting period, or longer, if rejected voters appeal to the Supreme Court.[viii]
4. “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.”
Under this provision, a Minnesota voter, voting absentee from another state or country would have to have their identity verified in a way that is substantially equivalent to a voter voting in person in the polling place who hands a photo ID to an election judge. It is not clear how this is possible. No other state has asked military and civilian absentee voters to meet these kinds of requirements. This “proof of identity” requirement will affect 250,000 military, overseas and domestic absentee and mail-in Minnesota voters in presidential elections. This section would also end same day voter registration as we know it, which is used by over 500,000 voters in presidential elections. Before same day registrants’ ballots could be counted, the information provided on their voter registration forms would need to be verified for accuracy in the same way as those who submitted registration forms before the election. This includes mailing each person a non-forwardable postcard and with data-matching with other government databases. Since these processes cannot occur in the polling place, same day registrants would have to submit provisional ballots, which would not be counted on Election Day, delaying election results. .
Following is what will appear on voter's ballots: [ix]PHOTO IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING"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?”
Prepared by the Office of the Secretary of State. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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