A proposed constitutional amendment that will require voters to show photo ID and make a series of other changes to state elections will be costly to governments and individuals, an anti-ID organization said. The costs to the state for providing free IDs, to local governments for instituting provisional balloting and upgrading technology, and to individuals for obtaining underlying documents such as birth certificates will be significant, said a report from Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota and David Schultz, law professor at Hamline University. Here is the breakdown of costs, according to the group’s report. The state would pay $8.25 million over four years to provide free IDs, as the amendment requires, and a one-time cost of $1.7 to $5.3 million to educate voters about the change. The counties, which administer local elections, would have to spend between $23 million and $53 million to institute a new system of provisional balloting, to provide the technology for instant verification of voters and to convert mail-in voters to in-person voters. Some of these costs would be continuing costs, the report states.
Individuals who may need birth certificates, marriage and divorce documents and other materials face costs ranging from $16 million to $72 million. These include not only the document costs but also travel and missed-work time to procure documents.
The report emphasizes that the costs are hard to estimate because the amendment is general in nature, and the details would need to be filled in next year by the Legislature. Kathy Bonnifield, executive director of the organization and a report co-author, said the estimates were based on the specifics contained in a 2011 photo ID law that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed. A key unknown, she said, is amendment language requiring “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification.” It is unclear how that will be interpreted, or what effect it will have on same-day registration, she said.