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Today, members of the Minnesota House heard two controversial bills that could cost the state millions and hamper voter access in a state that is renowned for progressive election policy.

Minnesota has long boasted above-average voter turnout, thanks, in part, to a decades-old policy that permits eligible citizens to register and vote on Election Day with a zero-rate of voter fraud. Despite lacking evidence of pervasive voter impersonation issues (as well as lacking available funding), state lawmakers are intent on changing the rules governing Election Day Registration and adding a requirement for all voters to present photographic proof of identity before voting.

“An effective, full-scale voter ID program can easily end up costing state taxpayers $20 million or more -- the three-year price tag officials estimated in 2010 for a program in Missouri,” wrote Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies. “For most states, such a costly program would be a suspect luxury in ordinary times; it's nearly impossible to justify it in today's economic crisis.”

Kromm’s article delves into the cost of implementation, education of poll workers and the public, and free ID for those who cannot afford it, all proposed in House bills 89 and 210.

“This proposal is simply an attempt to manipulate the voting process for political purposes to address an issue which is not a major problem in Minnesota,” editorialized the Willmar, Minn. publication, West Central Tribune last week. “Minnesota should be encouraging voters to participate in the voting process, not making it harder and more difficult to vote.”

The Tribune noted that one of the House bills’ supporters, Rep. Bruce “Vogel could not cite any voter problem in west central Minnesota in justifying his support for the bill” when it was introduced in late January. “Yet he claims that the significant cost of this proposed voter ID bill is justified.”

But, to “solve a minimal problem in Minnesota” for a price of $20 million, the Tribune says, “this bill proposal simply does not compute.”

The House Bill 210 would also put an end to “vouching” for your neighbor to prove their residency when registering to vote on Election Day, one of many ways Minnesotans are able to be part of the democratic process up until the day of an election.

“Minnesota's inclusive election policies have helped to build a strong culture of civic participation across the state,” says Project Vote’s Jennifer Jacquot-Devries, a Minnesota resident. “Enacting the proposed photo ID bill will only make voting more difficult for the very citizens we should be working to engage and empower.”

Originally posted to Project Vote on Thu Feb 03, 2011 at 12:12 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Governor Dayton will have his veto pen ready (6+ / 0-)

    ...and will need to keep it handy for the next two years!

    I am proud to live in a nation that hasn't practiced torture since 1/20/2009 - I just wish this alone didn't justify celebrating.

    by RethinkEverything on Thu Feb 03, 2011 at 12:24:41 PM PST

  •  Same here in NC (7+ / 0-)

    Below is my letter to the editor as it appeard in the Durham Herald-Sun on Sunday, January 30. My title was changed but they kept my snarky aside at the end.

    Require ID

    After promising to focus on budget cuts and smaller government, it is disconcerting to see that one of the first items on the Legislative agenda is a Voter ID law.

    Rather than spending up to 20 million dollars on a non-existing problem and creating another government bureaucracy, it would be more efficient and cheaper to use our shrinking funds to make voting technology tamper-proof and train elections officials better.

    Individual voter fraud, which this Voter ID law is supposed to prevent, is extremely rare and does not pose a credible threat to the integrity of our elections.

    Charges of widespread voter fraud have not been substantiated in recent years. For example, an intensive effort on the part of the federal government to uncover and prosecute voter fraud in Wisconsin in 2004 resulted in just five convictions for illegal voting in an election with over 3 million ballots cast.

    In addition, penalties for voter fraud carry hefty fines, lengthy prison sentences, and, in the case of fraudulent voting by non-citizens, the revocation of legal status and deportation.

    Why would anyone risk so much for virtually nothing? It makes no sense.

    Using allegations of voter fraud to impose more and more restrictive identification requirements on voting is nothing more than a political ploy intended to depress the turnout of voters of color, disabled and low-income voters, and students.

    I could be wrong, of course, and this is actually a well-intentioned but misguided initiative to create more government jobs to help the unemployed.



    Read more: The Herald-Sun - Jan 30 2011

    If money is speech, then speech is money and I should be able to pay my bills with witty social commentary, astute political analysis or good old blarney

    by heiderose1 on Thu Feb 03, 2011 at 12:26:27 PM PST

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