Voter ID issues addressed in debate

The opponents and supporters discussed voter registration.

Voter ID issues addressed in debate

Bryna Godar

Both sides of the voter ID amendment squared off face-to-face Thursday night at Metropolitan State University in a debate where they struggled to vet out the specific impacts of the proposed amendment.

Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, represented amendment supporters Protect My Vote, and characterized the measure as “simple and obvious.” He said the amendment will do four things:

•Require in-person voters to provide photo identification to vote

•Require the state to make IDs available at no charge

•Require provisional balloting for people without proper ID

•Require “substantially” the same treatment of all voters

“Everything else about the amendment … is wild speculation at best,” McGrath said. “If it’s not in the amendment, it’s not going to happen.”

Doran Schrantz, executive director of local social action coalition ISAIAH, represented Our Vote Our Future. Schrantz frequently said “we don’t know” all the implications, but it is much more complicated and detrimental than McGrath
portrayed.

“This amendment will leave a lot up to the interpretation of the language,” Schrantz said.

If it passes, legislation that aligns state law with the amended constitution will have to be passed.

The debate didn’t clear up much of the confusion.

Here is a breakdown of the main points of
contention:

 

Is voter fraud a problem in Minnesota?

 

McGrath said Minnesota is currently leading the nation in convictions for voter fraud, with 200 convicted during the 2008 election.

He also pointed out the return of undeliverable postal verification cards in 2008 — likely because of wrong addresses. The cards are sent out after an election to verify
residence.

Schrantz said returned postal cards are not evidence of voter fraud.

A portion of the fraud argument centered on the concept of “vouching.”

Under current state law, a voter registered in the same precinct, or an employee of the residential facility where a person lives can sign an oath confirming that person’s address, allowing him or her to vote that day.

“I think our current vouching process is ridiculous,” McGrath said.

He said this means he can walk into a polling place with someone who will vouch for him, tell the officials he is “John Wayne” and cast a ballot.

Schrantz disagreed, saying “vouching is safe” as he pointed to the legal document that must be signed.

News 21, an in-depth Carnegie Knight journalism program, analyzed election fraud and found that Minnesota has had 10 cases of voter fraud since 2000, eight of which were from felons casting ineligible votes.

What happens to Election Day registration?

 

Schrantz said the amendment language is at odds with same-day registration because of the final sentence: “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 the current Election Day registration process, a voter’s full eligibility is verified after voting.

McGrath said the amendment doesn’t affect Election Day registration — voters just have to bring a valid government-issued photo ID. Those who don’t can cast a provisional
ballot.

 

How much will this cost, and where will the money come from?

The amendment would require the state to issue photo IDs at no charge to eligible voters lacking accepted IDs.

McGrath said the money would come from the state general fund and would cost around $5 million.

Schrantz said the measure could cost up to $150 million. She laid out three layers of costs: the state, local governments and
individuals.

“We don’t really know how it’s all going to play out,” she said.

Schrantz said in Indiana, it cost the state $10 million to provide IDs.

“The thing that everyone should be suspicious about is the idea that anything at all is free,” Schrantz said.

 

Will student IDs count?

 

Neither side was certain, though. Because the amendment requires “valid government-issued photographic identification,” state universities could have more chance of acceptance than private ones.