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Voter Photo ID: Thwarting Fraud -or- Unneeded & Costly?

PHOTO: When Minnesotans go to the polls on November 6th, they'll decide whether photo ID will be required for voting in future elections. CREDIT: Courtesy AARP Minnesota.
PHOTO: When Minnesotans go to the polls on November 6th, they'll decide whether photo ID will be required for voting in future elections. CREDIT: Courtesy AARP Minnesota.
October 25, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The latest figure to enter the battle over the voter photo I.D. constitutional amendment is former Gov. Arne Carlson, who is now appearing in ads calling for Minnesotans to vote "no." Carlson says the requirement is unnecessary and comes with a price tag of $100 million - much of that falling on local municipalities.

"The tab for local governments, and this is a result of surveying all the 87 counties, is going to be in excess of $65 million, just on their side. The property-tax burden is going to be absolutely enormous."

Supporters of voter photo I.D. say the cost to implement and run the system will not be that high. They contend the requirement is needed to protect against voter fraud.

Dozens of cases of felons voting illegally have been prosecuted in the state, but an I.D. requirement alone would not stop that. Carlson says Minnesota's election system is already among the best in the nation.

"We have not had a case in Minnesota of voter impersonation in 10 years. Nationally, from 2000 to 2010, New York University came up with a grand total of 13 cases over 10 years. So, this is not exactly a serious problem."

If the voter photo I.D. amendment is passed, those most affected would include the poor, college students and senior citizens. AARP Minnesota Executive Director Michele Kimball says this could disenfranchise many of the elderly in nursing homes, who can currently vote if someone vouches for them.

"A woman may have been in that nursing home for several years; they've known her for a long time, and she says who she is. But under this proposed restrictive amendment, if that individual does not have a valid government I.D., that individual will not be allowed to vote. That's a problem."

Kimball says around 64,000 seniors in the state no longer carry a valid I.D.

The constitutional amendment is available at www.revisor.mn.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN