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OPINION: Voter ID Amendment Now in Your Hands

Rep. Joe McDonald gives his update from the State Legislature, where the Minnesota House and Senate recently passed legislation to require photo identification at the polls.

We passed a couple of very important bills in the House [last] week. One pertains to photo ID for voters and the other is geared toward tax relief and job creation.

The former (H.F. 2738) allows Minnesotans to decide whether photo ID should be a requirement for voting. The Senate may tinker with the language when it hears the bill. As of now, the question on our ballots this November will read:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended effective December 1, 2013, to require that all in-person voters present an approved form of government-issued photographic identification at the time of voting; that those not voting in person provide government-issued proof of identity; that all voters be subject to substantially equivalent eligibility verification before a ballot is cast or counted; and that the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible individuals?”

Click here for a link to existing constitutional language pertaining to elective franchise.

We spent approximately nine hours discussing this issue on the House floor last week. Appropriate safeguards are in the bill to make sure every legal voter is provided their opportunity to participate in the process. In addition to the free IDs that will be provided to those who lack one, provisional ballots may be cast and verified at a later date. So, even if you lose your wallet on the way to the poll, you still can vote.

The Legislature passed a similar bill last year, but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it. Surveys continually show Minnesotans support this initiative immensely, with 75 to 80 percent in favor. One governor should not be able to silence the will of an overwhelming majority, so we are taking this question directly to the voters.

The House also passed a bill last week called the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.F. 2337). The goal is to help our state be more competitive in the global marketplace. The taxes our businesses pay are among the highest in the United States and our package of improvements will help us improve on that standing.

First of all, our bill freezes the statewide tax on business property for one year and phases out the statewide tax on business property over a 12-year period. This will benefit small businesses throughout the state, especially those outside Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Here are some other highlights:

  • a $25 million increase in research-and-development credits for Minnesota companies;
  • a permanent $5 million increase in the Angel Investment Tax Credit;
  • allowing small businesses to take up-front capital equipment exemptions;
  • an internship grant program aimed at attracting and keeping talent in Greater Minnesota;
  • a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans.

We are waiting for Senate action on this bill as well. Have a great week and I will be back in touch soon with an update from the Capitol.

Susan Rego March 27, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Rep. McDonald literally doesn't know what he's talking about. None of the supporters of this proposed constitutional amendment do - all Republicans, by the way. They admitted so on the House floor. They don't know how much it will cost the taxpayers. They don't know how much it will cost the voter to acquire the birth certificate, etc. to get the ID. They don't know if it will eliminate same-day registration. They don't know any of this because they are leaving it up to the next legislature to actually write a working bill. Ninety-five percent of us will have no problem because we already have ID. Is it that hard to sympathize with those voters who don't use or need one in their daily life? Why are we placing an extra hoop for them to jump through to exercise their right to vote, especially when voter impersonation at the polls has never been a problem in Minnesota? How does my bedridden father-in-law, who votes absentee, get to the county courthouse to get his "free" ID?
Bex March 27, 2012 at 05:34 PM
"They don't know how much it will cost the taxpayers." Of course they don't since they don't know how many need ID's. I can tell you how much it will cost one person, tho. An ID is $18 if you are under 65 years old, $11 for those 65 and older; and and $.50 for those with a qualifying physical or developmental disability or qualified mental illness. If a birth certificate is needed, a certified copy is $26 and a non-certified copy is $13. One can renew an ID by mail, but only once. You can get the paperwork from the DMV and send in a copy of the old one with the paperwork. The signature on the paperwork must be notarized since the person is not there in person to sign. As for voting with a required ID, right now the state has people that go to the prisons with absentee ballots. Maybe the new law, hopefully assuming it gets passed, will have something similar in place for people in a position such as your father-in-law. The above info is available to anyone if they're willing to do about 20 minute of homework or go to the DMV.
Bex March 27, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Oops, sorry. "send in a copy of the old one" = send in a copy of the old ID with the paperwork.
Happy in St. Michael March 28, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Excellent explanation, Bex! They require IDs for practically everything else, including union voting. If you want to make the system fair and give everyone a voice, then Voter ID is the way to go. For the record, an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans support it, and it's support spans across all parties, races, genders, ages, and socioeconomic classes, so please stop spouting political rhetoric instead of facts. If you favor election integrity, you shouldn't have a problem with it. It won't disenfranchise anyone. Plus, you can still vote without an I.D. on a provisional ballot that will be accepted if you show I.D. later.
Susan Rego March 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM
And if you changed your name when you got married, your birth certificate doesn't bear your last name. You'll need a certified copy of your marriage certificate. If you were divorced and your name changed again, you'll have to bring your divorce decree too. What do those cost? A major cost to the taxpayers will be the PR campaign to let the voters know about this significant change. Republican lawmakers acknowledge this. Another major cost is the "provisional ballot" idea. It would add to the cost of elections at the city and county level. So the cost of this law is more than the cost of supplying "free" IDs. Those who argue for this law dismiss the hardship it would cause for that small minority of eligible voters who don't currently have a government-issued photo ID. So here is the bottom line: If you make it harder for people to vote, many won't vote at all. Is that what this is really about?
Bex March 28, 2012 at 02:38 PM
If a person has gotten married, which I have, and changed the name on their driver's license or ID, then they ALREADY HAVE a copy of their birth cert. & certified copy of their marriage cert. Which, by the way, they wouldn't need for voter ID purposes anyway since their new driver's license or ID would already have their new name on it. As far as a divorce, which I have also done, if the lawyer is worth even a penny of what they were paid & the divorced person has any common sense, the party of the divorce will be given the option, which they should take, of being given a certified copy of the divorce decree in case they want to change their name. Again, in this case, one would have all the documents needed to change the driver's license ID card. Also, I got remarried and had to do the name change thing all over agian. It really is not that big of a deal. I cannot imagine someone over the age of 18, which would make them an eligible voter, ever NOT needing an ID, unless, of course, their life dealings are less than legitimate. Also, I did your homework for you before. A couple of strokes on the keyboard will give you the info you need if you really want to find out the cost. Why should anyone get a free ID anyway? And the "bottom line" as you call it is this: if really want to vote because they really care about what happens in this state and this country, then they will do what the have to do to make sure their vote counts...without complaining about it.
Mike Schoemer (Editor) March 28, 2012 at 03:44 PM
My main concern is this: When I moved to Minnesota in 2006, I lived with my in-laws for six months before my wife and I found our own place. Because of the craziness in moving, looking for a house, etc, I still had my North Dakota ID. Would THAT be accepted at the poll? (I've got a call in to Rep. Kiffmeyer). In the 2006 election, my father-in-law was nice enough to vouch for me (that system would be gone). I realize this is a MINOR segment of people, but I'd hate to see transplants disenfranchised if their out-of-state ID isn't accepted.
Al Anderson March 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Mike Unless you were just "visiting" your in-laws for six months - the Minnesota law is that you must apply for a Minnesota drivers license within 30 days of the move. While that doesn't fully answer the concern of very near term moves - it does answer yours. Any "disenfranchisement" would have been because you violated a different law.
Mike Schoemer (Editor) March 28, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Al, Again, just my own personal experience. My house sold in mid-October. Election was in November. Regardless if I waited until March to get my personal ID or not, the election was within the 30-day window. MY POINT is what happens to the near term moves, not what law I might have violated.
Al Anderson March 28, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mike Personally, I believe you should still have voted in the North Dakota 2006 election - since you still had North Dakota issued identification and had not applied for identification in Minnesota. That is how that problem is solved - as you maintain the right to your vote. Same goes for out of state college students - they should vote (via absentee) in the state of their residency. This would disallow duplicate voting via absentee (home state) and "vouching" (Minnesota) that occurs. Vouching has been a wide open invitation for voter fraud -- which is one problem that voter id will solve. Anyone who doesn't think that vouching has been tremendously abused over the years is horrifically naive or duplicitously disingenious.
Genuinely Curious March 28, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Amending the Constitution to add Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem...but I realize that people won't listen to facts, which show that voter fraud is not a widespread problem...and, that it will likely disenfranchise thousands of elderly, young, and minorities... So, rather than try and even engage in that debate, why don't we settle on a bi-partisan backed compromise? It is supported by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Governor Dayton, and former governor Tim Pawlenty indicated he too would like a bi-partisan, legislative, solution...the compromise? First, not amending the Constitution. Second, pass a law enacting Electronic Voter Poll Books. The links below explain more. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/02/28/voter-id-compromise/ http://www.theuptake.org/2012/03/08/governor-dayton-on-voter-photo-id-alternative/ http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2546577.shtml (3rd paragraph from the bottom)
Al Anderson March 28, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Funny thing about politics and who is in power Genuinely. The fix to solve election fraud has been on the plate for many years - but the party of NO (DFL) to election legitimacy has stonewalled this issue. It's only now - when the DFL's ability to manufacture votes will be marginalized that we see something from them to address this issue. If it's really not a problem (as you and DFL claim) why compromise at all? Why not stick to your principles and continue to spout the oft repeated but wholely inaccurate line "Voter Id is a solution in search of a problem"?
Mike March 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I never have gotten what is so horribly wrong about proving citizenship in order to vote. Voting is for citizens just as drinking is for those who are over 21! I've never heard anybody, other than underage college kids who want to abuse alcohol, whine about the id requirement. Forgive me if it seems that those who don't want to have id's for voting somehow want to abuse the vote.
Susan Rego March 28, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Bex, what if you had to leave a domestic abuse situation in a hurry and you don't have a driver's license. It's November 5 and you don't have your birth certificate and you don't have your divorce decree. You want to exercise your sacred right to vote. This proposed constitutional amendent would deny you the right to vote. Sure, they say you can cast a provisional ballot and go to the county courthouse within ten days and apply for ID, and then cast oyur ballot. But you have to come up with the cash to get the supporting documents to get that "free" ID. What if your county courthouse is a hundred miles away, as it is in places in Minnesota? How do you get there? Do you see all the steps required for this one voter must take before her voice is heard? It's no big deal for you and for me, but why are we making it hard on folks who live on the margins of society? Especially when Minnesota elections are about as clean as you're ever going to see. There are mistakes made, sure. But intentional voter fraud? Essentially zero.
Bex March 29, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Susan, I have had to leave a domestice abuse situation. That is why I got divorced. With regard to the scenario you've suggested here, if the person fled in a hurry, I'm assuming they went to a parent, a friend or neighbor, a shelter or a police station. If they did go to one of those places, they would not have been alone and would have had some resources to get the documents they need to get their life back on track and get their ID. As far as "as all the steps", there are no more steps for this person than someone else not in a domestic situation who does not have an ID. And how do you know that it is "no big deal" for me? As far as making it "hard on the folks who live on the margins of society", life is hard for everyone, not just people who have little money. Money doesn't make life easier, unless of course, one is only looking at the economic factors of life, which, it seems the liberals do since they're always pitting the "rich" against the "poor". The fact is, life IS hard and sometimes the circumstances of our lives, whatever they may be, don't allow for us to exercise our rights. Does that suck? Yes. Does it seem fair? No. But fair is a weather forecast, not life. I'm sorry if I seem unsympathetic. Believe me, I'm not. I, myself, have had to pick myself up, dust myself off and kick myself in the pants too many times to count. It sucked. Sometimes it still sucks.
Bex March 29, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Phooey, ran out of characters. Susan, I am so so sorry if this is a real-life situation you have described. Each situation is different and regardless of the circumstances is no less awful for one than another. I hope, if this situation is real, that the person has gotten the help they need to get their life back on track, be happy and thrive.
Susan Rego March 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
In response to Bex, above, the point here is not that life is sometimes unfair. That's so true. The point is that in our system of government, voting is THE fundamental right. Voter impersonation at the polls is not a problem in Minnesota. (Have you heard of one instance?) Supporters of this constitutional amendment would be making life even more unfair for a minority of eligible, registered voters by denying them the right to vote, unless they go through the necessary steps to acquire a government-issued photo ID. There is no extra burden on people like you and me who already have a driver's license. Mike, do you really think there are people out there who want to abuse the vote? Really? Drinking, cashing checks, getting on a plane - all these activities require an ID. You can't compare these things to voting, which is a civic duty and a fundamental right. The penalty for voter fraud is 5 years and a $10,000 fine. The lady in Andover who admitted to signing and sending in her daughter's absentee ballot, not knowing her daughter had also voted in person at college - she is a Christian conservative who was terribly embarrassed, and was given a light sentence. Hers is the only case Minnesota Majority was able to find, and the proposed photo ID law wouldn't have stopped it anyway.
Mike March 29, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Rego, I do believe that people might wish to abuse the vote. The Okeefe Video on Minnesota demonstrates how easy it is to do that. If fraud is easy and possible and someone might benefit from the fraud, there will be fraud. That's just the way the world works. We are inviting fraud by not protecting our polls. Lets protect them. If the disenfranchised people you are concerned about can't be bothered to go get a free state ID then why would they even be bothered to go to the polls? Yeah I know, getting an ID might require a birth certificate. Getting a certified copy of said certificate might cost something like $20. Sometimes being a citizen costs. It costs the minority who pay their taxes every year. It cost some people who died fulfilling their obligation to serve in war their very lives. Each election cycle we read of those who tirelessly work to register people to vote and then load them into 15 passenger vans and take them to the polling places. I don't think it would be so difficult for these motivated volunteers to to get the same people fixed up with some free IDs. Let's go. Let's do it. Heck, I'd even be in favor of getting IDs when you register to vote. Have a camera right there at the polling place. They give name, address, some other means of identification, and bingo... they are given a photo ID...which will be renewed at the polling place.
Susan Rego March 29, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Mike: What is the benefit to impersonating another voter at the polls? If this is something people want to do, then why haven't they? Have you ever heard of it in Minnesota? Not felons voting, which is not an ID issue. Not a mom signing and sending in her daughter's absentee ballot. An ID would not have prevented it. Who would risk $10,000 and 5 years in prison to benefit a politician? This law will do nothing to enhance election integrity, because we already have it. Minnesota has a fine reputation for clean elections. But it will suppress the vote among groups of people who don't currently have an ID. For Pete's sake, when it rains, voter turnout decreases. But at least it rains on everybody equally. Voter photo ID is only a hardship on some voters.
Genuinely Curious March 29, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Al, your mentality is exactly what's wrong with political discourse in this country right now. Your reason for opposing a perfectly sensible, practical, and useful solution to this minor problem is that the "DFL has stone walled this issue"...so...because the DFL voted agaisnt a Voter ID law and Dayton vetoed one, they've stonewalled it? OK, sure. Regardless, it's bad policy to tinker with the Constitution for something that can be done with a legislative solution - Electronic Poll Books. It cleans up are already pristine elections, it's cheaper, and it doesn't tinker with the Constitution. Yet, you're only opposed to it because soem DFL'er stole the jam out of your doughnut when you were younger, and now you feel the need to oppose everything they put forward, rather than act responsible and support a logical bi-partisan solution. Thank you, Al, for contributing to the division of this country.
Genuinely Curious March 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Mike - I totally understand your point that if someone can't be bothered enough to get an ID, then would they be bothered to go to the polls? I get that. Here's the deal, you might be right. But, you're missing the larger point here - voting is most fundamental piece of our government, and there should not be any hurdles, however minor, when it comes to voting. It is something that every citizen should be able to do with ease. Show up, cast your vote, let your voice be heard. It shouldn't fall on dedicated volunteers to help them get their ID. Although the amendment would only disenfranchise a small number of voters, even one voter disenfranchised is too many. I agree with your last point about IDs at the polling center...I posted above about Electronic Poll Books...that's essentially what it does...except, you don't need/get a physical ID, as it's electronic (or printed copies) and poll workers can look at the screen (or printed copy) and verify the identity of the person. It's simpler, just as effective, cheaper, and it doesn't tinker with the constitution. There's no good reason not to support the idea put forth by Secretary of State Ritchie...none. If you're interested, feel free to check out these links: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/02/28/voter-id-compromise/ http://www.theuptake.org/2012/03/08/governor-dayton-on-voter-photo-id-alternative/ http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2546577.shtml (3rd paragraph from the bottom)

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