Fixing the unbroken

Requiring a photo identification to vote would dangerously complicate Minnesota’s voting process.

Senate Republicans recently announced new legislation to curb voting fraud in Minnesota. The legislation would require voters to have a photo identification card before casting their ballot, and provide them free of charge to those in need. Voters may cast a provisional ballot if they don’t present a photo ID at the polls. Opponents of the bill say that this would add yet another step in the process and is unnecessary due to the low voter-fraud rate in the state. They are right. Tom Emmer, the Republican Representative who authored the Voter Integrity Act of 2009, said in an interview his bill would improve the integrity and confidence of MinnesotaâÄôs election system along with increase voter turnout. He cited a 2007 study conducted by a University of Missouri professor and fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, Jeffrey Milyo, which argued photo ID requirements do not suppress voting âÄî even in the most democratic-leaning counties. âÄúItâÄôs not a matter of proving fraud, itâÄôs a matter of having confidence in the system,âÄù Emmer said. âÄúSomebody who is opposed at having to identify themselves while theyâÄôre voting, IâÄôd have to ask why.âÄù We respectfully disagree. Minnesota is known as one of the best states in the administration of elections, frequently ranking first in the nation for the percentage of eligible voters going to the polls. The state has same-day registration and the myth of far-reaching voter fraud has proved to be just that. The Ramsey County AttorneyâÄôs Office, for instance, said that âÄî save a few pending investigations âÄî MinnesotaâÄôs second largest county has not thus far prosecuted double voting or voting irregularities. That same countyâÄôs elections manager, Joe Mansky, told the Star Tribune in November that cases of coordinated efforts to register improperly or vote multiple times, since 1974, have been âÄúexactly zero.âÄù Moreover, the study Emmer cited is not thorough enough to reach the conclusions that photo ID requirements do not suppress voters. Indeed, The Effects of Photographic Identification of Voter Turnout in Indiana: a County-Level Analysis looked at the change in voter turnout from the 2002 to 2006 and found a two percentage point increase to the latter. “In counties with greater percentages of minority or poor voters, turnout increased even more, although the increase is not statistically significant,” the study states. But that study isn’t applicable to Minnesota, both because itâÄôs a different state and because the study only analyzes two different elections. Emmer also argued in the interview that the allegations about the double-counting of votes in Minneapolis support the need for photo ID. But that argument cannot be applicable in support of photo ID requirements for voters because if those allegations are in fact true âÄî and some of them have already been disproved âÄî itâÄôs because the elections judges, not voters, made a mistake in not labeling the duplicate ballots as such. EmmerâÄôs bill seeks to improve the integrity of a process thatâÄôs already known for reliability. It would complicate an elections system thatâÄôs already known for its simplicity. It attempts to increase the voter turnout in a state that tops the nation in percent of eligible voters casting ballots. It looks to enshrine confidence in a system about which Minnesotans should brag. Both lawmakers and the governor should make all their effort to ensure it doesnâÄôt pass.