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Minnesota's Support for Voter Photo ID Amendment is Falling

PHOTO: Voting booth. CREDIT: Courtesy 'Our Vote Our Future.'
PHOTO: Voting booth. CREDIT: Courtesy 'Our Vote Our Future.'
September 24, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It could be a close call on the voter photo ID constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in Minnesota this November. A new "Star Tribune" Minnesota Poll says 52 percent support voter ID, down from 80 percent in May of 2011. Since that survey, various groups have come out against the measure, including Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota.

CEO Jodi Harpstead says people are starting to realize that the requirement won't be so easy, especially for the homeless, disabled or older adults who don't have driver's licenses.

"... who will have to get rides to go get an photo ID, speaking particularly of older adults in rural Minnesota who might have to drive 100 miles round trip to pick up a photo ID just to vote across the street."

There are an estimated 215,000 Minnesotans who are registered voters, but don't currently have a valid photo ID.

There are also concerns, says Harpstead, about such things as the cost to implement the system, possibly as high as $50 million statewide, and how same-day registration and provisional ballots will be handled.

"We're all being asked to vote on an amendment without having the rules in front of us, so we really don't know what the exact consequences of the amendment will be, but we're being asked to vote on it anyway."

Another group working for rejection of the measure is Our Vote Our Future. Spokesman Eric Fought says one of their worries is over those who normally mail in absentee ballots, such as senior citizens in nursing homes and military members overseas.

"If the photo ID requirement continues for mail-in balloting, someone serving in the Armed Forces in Baghdad can't show a photo ID to an election judge there, and there's no exemption for those folks written in the amendment."

Those in favor of the amendment say people need to show photo ID for all kinds of daily activities and requiring it at the polls will help prevent voter fraud.

In addition to the tightening on the voter photo ID question, the new Minnesota Poll also puts the amendment to ban sex-same marriage at basically a dead heat with 47 percent opposed and 49 percent in favor. The amendment does need 50 percent to pass.

The Bill on the voter ID amendment is at bit.ly/PkFir4.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN