Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Another option to ensure voter integrity

MANKATO — An alternative to a proposed constitutional amendment deserves a close look by state lawmakers in both parties.

With one amendment — to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage — already on the November ballot, many lawmakers are reluctant to add more. And for good reason: Bypassing the normal legislative process to try and change policy through the constitution is not good governance.

As we’ve said previously, unless the constitution needs to be changed to allow or ban something the public wants, policy changes are best done in the Legislature.

But lawmakers have been pushing a voter ID amendment that — if approved — would require a state-issued photo ID for anyone wishing to vote. It’s strongly supported by Republicans, and opinion polls show public support. Some on the DFL side worry it would make it more difficult for some — such as college students and the elderly — who may not have current photo IDs.  

A new bill, originally pitched by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, has the elements that should draw support from both sides.

The bill would create an “electronic poll book” voter verification system in which election officials would look up existing driver’s license photos or take a new photo of each voter at polling places.

Using readily available technology, the system would be less onerous for the hundreds of thousands of voters who no longer drive, have changed their addresses without updating a license or those who have lost their ID cards.

The alternative legislation should also allow for voter-day registration to continue.

Many groups, including the League of Women Voters and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, worry that photo ID requirements would effectively eliminate election-day registration. Same-day registration has kept the state’s voter turnout high and made it easier for residents to participate.

Using an electronic poll book rather than photo ID should allow for voter-day registration to continue.

The alternative legislation would provide the photographic security that voter ID backers seek to safeguard the voting system.

And it has the added benefit of being less costly than requiring the state to issue more photo IDs.

Reprinted with permission.


Write your reaction to this piece in Comments below. Or consider submitting your own Community Voices commentary; for information, email Susan Albright.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 03/09/2012 - 07:08 am.

    I’d support photo IDs if there was a major fraud problem. But balancing negligible fraud (voter impersonation) against inevitable disenfranchisement even for those with ID, and I think the interest of democracy disfavors the photo ID requirement. If Voter ID requirements were likely to hurt left and right rather equally, this debate would not have started.

    Having said that, I didn’t see any voter disenfranchisement in the well to do district that I live in. ;^)

  2. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/09/2012 - 09:16 am.


    Why has the MN GOP outright sneered at this proposal? Is it because it won’t actually do what it’s supposed to do (provide integrity to the vote–not that I’m convinced the integrity is at risk)? Or is it really because this solution actually wouldn’t disenfranchise anyone? I suspect the latter.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/09/2012 - 10:34 am.

    The Electronic Poll Book System

    Doesn’t address the problem our “conservative” Republican friends are trying to solve:

    that too many people who disagree with them are allowed to vote.

    If they thought they could get away with it, they’d wipe ALL non-“conservatives” off the roles of registered voters (including old-school, moderate Republicans) and make it VERY difficult for them to get back on,…

    Since they can’t get away with that (thanks to the founders of our state and nation and the constitutions they wrote), they’ll continue to push for Voter I.D. or some other disenfranchisement scheme,…

    or for vote-tallying systems which lack any way to verify their totals and can be hacked without leaving traces in order to ensure their own electoral victories,…

    until that fabled very warm place freezes over (or the Vikings win the Superbowl).

    They don’t seem to believe they can win elections any other way.

  4. Submitted by myles spicer on 03/09/2012 - 10:35 am.


    The catalyst for all this ID fuss was likely the 2008 election. as a reminder, there WERE 113 probably cases of ineligible voters (not necessarily fraud) — out of 2.9 MILLION votes cast. This whole issue is again a solution in search of a problem.

  5. Submitted by rolf westgard on 03/10/2012 - 10:25 pm.

    Calling a spade a spade

    We all know what voter ID is for – to disenfranchise a lot of people who usually vote for Democrats. It’s a clever and legal scheme, Republicans. Just admit that is why you are pushing it. With intolerance and limiting suffrage, the Repubs are making quite a name for themselves.

Leave a Reply