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Mayors Rybak, Coleman blast Photo ID as needless expense in tight times

The DFL mayors of Minnesota’s two largest cities called the amendment an unfunded mandate for cash-strapped municipalities.

“We are really struggling in our communities to find the resources that we need. So instead of adding to the support for the cities, this is detracting from it,” said Mayor Chris Coleman of Saint Paul
MinnPost photo by James Nord

The DFL mayors of Minnesota’s two largest cities blasted the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment Monday, calling it an unnecessary unfunded mandate for cash-strapped municipalities.

In a time of shrinking local government aid and rising property taxes to fund city services, tight local resources could be better allocated elsewhere than an overhaul of Minnesota’s voting system, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said at a news conference.

Ramsey County officials estimated the proposed amendment will cost St. Paul taxpayers nearly $900,000 over two years, while Minneapolis officials could only speculate it would be “extremely expensive” to implement the new voting systems.

“We are really struggling in our communities to find the resources that we need. So instead of adding to the support for the cities, this is detracting from it,” Coleman said.

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“I could take that million dollars and add police officers. I can take that million dollars and add reading programs for our kids after school. I can take that million dollars and do a whole lot of things that I can attach a specific problem to. Voter fraud is not one of them.”

Coleman and Rybak also criticized the Republican-backed amendment as a political tactic to disenfranchise communities that traditionally vote for the DFL. They said that the type of voter fraud that Photo ID seeks to combat is nonexistent in Minnesota.

“The proposition that Minnesota leads the country in voter fraud is laughable,” Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said or recent arguments favoring the amendment. “If anything, we lead the country in successful prosecutions.”

Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky speaking at the news conference.
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky speaking at the news conference.
 

They also said the amendment’s title and explanations from Republicans don’t adequately address the true costs and hassle associated with the amendment.

“This is about a myriad of deep, confusing questions that will not be answered by the time that somebody is expected to vote on Election Day.”

The state Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on litigation that could result in the entire language of the constitutional amendment appearing on the ballot, which could raise printing costs.