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.
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