Analysis: Voter ID bill would cost state many millions

Voter ID bills introduced early in the legislative session have languished for many reasons, but they might be mostly burdened by their potential costs.

We wrote about some feared costs before, particularly as they apply to proposed electronic pollbooks.

Now, Minnesota Common Cause and Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota have compiled a detailed review (PDF) of the costs of House File 210 — which requires Voter ID and institutes the electronic voter check-in system statewide — and House File 89, which simply requires photo ID for voters.

Bottom line: $84 million over three years for H.F. 210, and $25 million for H.F. 89. Much of the analysis is based on real costs in other states that have instituted Voter ID. The two voter rights and election watchdog groups say the fiscal notes developed by legislative researchers underestimate the real potential costs. The voter groups also took county level costs into account.

The costs, according to the Common Cause and CEIMN, include: voter education and outreach ($19 million); the subsidization of voters who don’t have official IDs and need them ($4 million); equipment in every precinct in the state for the electronic roster/pollbooks ($59 million).

“Both pieces of legislation would impose substantial costs on the state and local governments at a time when they can least afford it,” the Common Cause and CEIMN report concludes.

For now, no hearings are set on the bills in either the House or Senate. Gov. Mark Dayton has long been expected to veto any Voter ID bill if it were to pass the Legislature.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 03/24/2011 - 04:23 pm.

    Expensive? It’s all about priorities, and the GOP and DFL have different priorities. To the DFL, $84 million is affordable if it’s going toward one of their causes.

  2. Submitted by Susan Rego on 03/24/2011 - 05:58 pm.

    Why should taxpayers pick up the cost of a priority on the GOP political agenda? Voter fraud?! Minnesota Republicans protest too much – in reality they are pushing for this because they think it will tip the balance for them in close elections by disenfranchising just enough voters who tend to vote DFL.

  3. Submitted by L.A. Krahn on 03/25/2011 - 08:44 am.

    Red herring!

  4. Submitted by Dan McGrath on 03/25/2011 - 10:04 am.

    Minnesota Majority Statement on CEI, Common Cause Policy Brief: The High Cost of Voter ID Mandates
    Minnesota Majority President, Jeff Davis: “Utter Nonsense.”

    St. Paul – Minnesota Majority president Jeff Davis today issued the following statement regarding the Common Cause/Citizens for Election Integrity policy brief, “The High Cost of Voter ID Mandates,” which concludes that the voter ID bills will cost $25-84 million dollars:

    “This brief is high fantasy. It purports to analyze official fiscal notes, but is far removed from even the most overblown fiscal note produced by the secretary of state’s office. Secretary Ritchie is no supporter of Voter ID and has no reason to downplay the fiscal impact. If anything, those fiscal notes are probably unreasonably high estimates but the brief Common Cause and Citizens for Election Integrity produced suggests that the costs will be 2-3 times higher than even the secretary of state determined.

    “Besides the ridiculous overstatement by groups that are simply opposed to voter ID and can’t win the debate on the merits, or apparently even realistic fiscal considerations, the data they purport to base their brief on is already outdated. The latest cost estimates of these bills (SF509 and HF210) from Senate counsel and accounting staff put them at $5 million or less – over 5 years with a year one cost of only $213,000. An official fiscal note to that effect is expected within a few days.

    “I hope nobody is taking this brief seriously. It’s utter nonsense.”


    For more information on 21st Century Voter ID, see

  5. Submitted by C. Dorr on 03/28/2011 - 03:09 am.

    C’mon McGrath & Davis, you can’t do this (ID) thing on the cheap.
    An example : It is “utter nonsense” when you buy a vehicle to think that the ONLY cost is what you pay on the sticker. You have to include all the additional costs of gas, repairs, insurance etc. just to put the wheels on the road. It’s called reality & honesty. The dollars come out of your pocket no matter what. Unless you have found a way to run a vehilce on air (free), get no-cost insurance & spend zero on maintenance or repairs, there are all kinds of other costs involved.
    Same thing with the costs of Photo ID. It’s not just the equipment, it’s a lot of ancillary things to make it all work together.
    So both of you, please be honest & accurate on your numbers. The people of Minnesota deserve no less when it’s our public monies we’re talking about here.

  6. Submitted by R. Yaeger on 03/29/2011 - 07:01 pm.

    These majority legislators are now willing to spend at least $25 million (the higher estimate is $84 million) to “fix” a problem that all data shows does not even exist. But they are rushing forward with horrendous cuts to education, health care and a myriad of other programs that hurt the middle and lower classes.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

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