The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election 2012

November 2, 2012

Are Voter I.D. concerns overblown or real?

— If a majority of Minnesota voters approve a proposed amendment on Tuesday to change the rules for voting, Article VII Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution is going to get longer by two subsections.

That’s about all supporters and opponents of the amendment can agree on.

The first new subsection is the one that’s gotten most of the attention: “All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. ... ”

But it’s the second one that’s causing at least as much debate among people taking a closer look at the implications of the amendment: “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.”

Amendment opponents and elections officials in Minnesota say that provision could end Election Day registration and dramatically change absentee balloting, possibly impacting voting by soldiers serving overseas and eliminating mail-in balloting by rural townships.

Former Congressman Tim Penny of Waseca has signed on as co-chair of the organization “Our Vote Our Future” because he objects to the amendment for a variety of reasons, including the language to be added to the constitution that isn’t spelled out on Tuesday’s ballot.

“The amendment is a lot more involved and a lot more detailed that you would be led to believe by the wording of the (ballot) amendment,” Penny said.

Rep. Tony Cornish of Good Thunder thinks the concerns of opponents are overblown and suggests any problems can be fixed by lawmakers and the governor in 2013 after the amendment passes.

“Everything they are saying is a worst-case scenario, what could  happen,” Cornish said.

The photo ID part

The bulk of the discussion of the proposed amendment has been focused on the new requirement that voters must show a photo ID before getting a ballot, or — if they don’t have a government-issued photo ID — submit a provisional ballot that will be set aside and counted later only if the voter goes to the local elections office and shows a valid ID within a certain number of days after the election.

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Election 2012