Star Tribune front page gets it wrong: overstates Photo ID, other voting requirements

One of Minnesota’s election-year flashpoints is photo ID; Republican-leaning “election integrity” groups want to mandate it for voting, but state law doesn’t require it.

However, a front-page error on the Star Tribune makes it seem like the ID forces have already won. The paper’s “Voting Tips” does not distinguish between registered voters — who need no other ID to vote — and those registering on Election Day. (Update: the Strib has corrected the web version.)

Under the heading “What You Need,” the Strib states:

All that’s required is a legal photo identification card, a utility bill showing a voter’s residence or a signed affidavit from another resident in the voter’s precinct.

The item makes it seem like all voters need such things, but it’s actually an incomplete version of what same-day registrants need. The complete list of same-day registration options, from the Secretary of State’s website:

To register at your polling place on Election Day, you must bring one of the following with your current name and address to verify your residence in the precinct :

  • A valid Minnesota driver’s license, learner’s permit, Minnesota ID card, or receipt for any of these
  • A valid student ID card including your photo, if your college has provided a student housing list to election officials
  • A Tribal ID card that contains your picture and signature 
  • A valid registration in the same precinct under a different name or address 
  • A notice of late registration sent to you by your county auditor or city clerk
  • A voter registered in the same precinct as you who can confirm your address with a signed oath
  • An employee of the residential facility where you live who can confirm your address with a signed oath
  • Both 1) a photo ID from the list below, and 2) a current bill from the list below with your current name and address in the precinct
    • Photo IDs (may be expired)
      • Minnesota Driver’s License
      • Minnesota ID Card
      • United States Passport
      • United States Military ID Card
      • Tribal ID Card
      • Minnesota University, College, or Technical College ID Card
    • Bills (delivered electronically or by mail)
      • Utility bill due within 30 days of election day:
        • Telephone (landline, cell, VOIP, etc.) 
        • TV (cable, satellite, etc.)
        • Internet services
        • Electric
        • Gas
        • Solid Waste
        • Sewer Services
        • Water 
      • Rent statement dated within 30 days of election day that itemizes utilities
      • Current student fee statement

The Strib item does provide a link to the secretary of state’s website, and a hotline: 1-877-600-VOTE (8683).

Given the Strib’s daily circulation and web traffic, the error could, at the very least, flood helplines on a day already complicated by “election integrity” challenges. And let’s hope no races are decided by Franken-Coleman margins.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 11/02/2010 - 09:56 am.

    Maybe the STrib shouldn’t have fired all those copy editors, eh?

  2. Submitted by Addy Free on 11/02/2010 - 10:05 am.

    That is exactly what I was just saying to some buddies.

  3. Submitted by Craig Westover on 11/02/2010 - 10:07 am.

    Why the “” around “election integrity”? Doesn’t seem very “objective.”

    The ultimate validity of an election is that the people accept the results. That requires people are confident that everyone who wanted to vote had a real opportunity to vote AND the that the results were not swayed by fraud and coercion. It requires more than a high turnout and more than photo ID.

    If either side were serious about honest elections we would have a strict process of voter registration (including photo ID) and the state would play an active role in registering voters and ensuring that registered voters have proper voting ID.

    Running elections is a legitimate constitutional government function that should be funded to a level that provides confidence in the outcome even in close elections. Neither side today is willing to concede the legitimate claims of the other.

    Jon Stewart would not be proud of putting “election integrity” in scare quotes.

  4. Submitted by chris hatch on 11/02/2010 - 10:41 am.


    to me the scare quotes are valid as we have a group that thinks they know if people are eligible to vote from 100 feet away.

    How do you know if someone is a felon or an illegal immigrant or doesn’t live in that district or voted in their old district and their new one from 100 feet away?

    there is a very real possibility that there will be unfair voter challenges due to this

    that said I do agree with you on the requirement to have a photo ID. I have always said that every resident of the state should be required to have a photo ID and that ID counts as your voter registration.

  5. Submitted by David Brauer on 11/02/2010 - 11:13 am.

    Craig – I make no claims to be objective. There are enough questions about Election Integrity’s motives and partisanship (talk about unobjective!) to render the quote marks.

  6. Submitted by chuck holtman on 11/02/2010 - 12:01 pm.

    Craig: “If either side were serious about honest elections,” we would have 100% public campaign funding, the “sides” would not focus campaign strategies on how to be as dishonest as possible without getting caught, and we would not be using touchscreen voting machines with code that the public is not allowed to inspect (just for starters). Voting by non-registered voters is truly the tail of a very long dog.

  7. Submitted by Garrett Peterson on 11/02/2010 - 01:02 pm.

    STrib admitted their error and posted the following info on their website:

    “If you’re registered, just show up.

    Information in Tuesday’s newspaper and previous info on the website incorrectly stated that all voters were required to bring identification.”

  8. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 11/02/2010 - 02:19 pm.

    The conservatives here are playing high-minded principle but it’s every bit as transparent as always. No sensible person would institute draconian voting policies – in a country with already low turnout – whose effect will be to prevent a tiny handful of acts of voter fraud at the expense of scaring thousands from the polls.

  9. Submitted by Craig Westover on 11/02/2010 - 08:40 pm.

    Chris —

    I agree re “voter challenges from 100 feet away.” The problem is those challenges are given perceived credibility because people do not have faith in the integrity of the vote and the resistant to correcting it. It is a certainty there will be unfair voter challenges as there is a certainty there will be organized attempts at fraudulent voting. Democracy can be messy.

    David G —

    Ensuring that elections are fair is a constitutional obligation of the state. If that means the state pays for IDs, the state pays for IDs. If that means we hire people to to do outreach voter registration, we do that. Reducing the scope of government — limiting government to those things it is obligated to do — provides funds for the legitimate constitutional obligation of ensuring election integrity.

    Chuck —

    Public funding is not the answer. The only way to take money out of politics is reduce the power of government.If government has little to sell then buying a legislator isn’t a good investment.

    Jeff —

    You’re missing the point. To ensure the credibility of elections you need BOTH voter integrity AND a sufficient turnout to ensure you have recorded the general will of the people — all the people. Today we have lost that balance in favor of turnout over integrity. We need to work toward a system that maintains our high turnout but restores voter integrity. Simply instituting photo ID just makes the system biased in the other direction. We need Photo ID and a compensating process to maintain voter turnout.

Leave a Reply