The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 2, 2012

Are Voter I.D. concerns overblown or real?

(Continued)

Amendment supporters say the requirement will make it harder for people to vote under a false name. Opponents say that virtually never happens anyway and that it will make voting more difficult for people who don’t have a photo ID.

Supporters say the requirement is no more severe that what is required for a variety of business transactions and that IDs will be provided at no charge for people who don’t have a driver’s license or state ID card.

 Opponents say taxpayers will get stuck with the cost of providing the free IDs; applicants would still have to get a copy of their birth certificate, marriage license or other supporting documents, which can cost money; and that it would be hardship — even if free — for the elderly and those with disabilities.

The “all voters” part

Subsection C — the last 26 words that the amendment would add to the constitution — is the part that has the potential to cause more widespread changes in Minnesota voting. It requires that “all voters” be subjected to “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification” before they can cast a ballot on Election Day.

Right now, when a Minnesotan pre-registers to vote, elections officials check a variety of databases to verify the person’s identity and the eligibility to vote of the would-be voter. Driver’s license records or Social Security Administration records are examined to ensure the person exists, hasn’t died and is an American citizen; a Department of Corrections database verifies the person isn’t an ineligible felon; the state courts database is checked to make sure the person isn’t under the guardianship of another.

Finally, a postcard is sent to the address provided by the pre-registering voter — a postcard that can’t be forwarded to a new address — to see if it’s bounced back by the U.S. Postal Service.

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