Local election officials are bracing for an expected increase in work load if Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. There are still many unknowns about how the new requirements would be carried out. But county auditors say it’s clear there would be added duties, changes in the ballot-counting process and possibly the need to purchase electronic equipment for all polling places to verify voters’ eligibility. Most county officials have steered clear of the political debate over whether the proposed amendment is good public policy. But they are vocal about the costs and complications they expect if it passes. “There’s going to be a lot of political denial that this thing is expensive,” said Jeff Spartz, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties.
The proposed amendment requires all voters to present a valid government-issued photo ID before receiving a ballot. Those who don’t have a photo ID could submit a provisional ballot, which would be counted only if the voter confirms his or her identity within the allowed time. Just how many people would cast provisional ballots is under debate. In the last election, about 540,000 people registered to vote on Election Day, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.
While some of those would present an adequate photo ID, by one estimate 131,000 Minnesotans have an ID with the wrong address that doesn’t match their voter registration, Ritchie said. An estimated 84,000 current voters — mainly those who are elderly and no longer drive — don’t have state-issued identification, he said. Plus, some voters will have lost their ID or forgotten it at home but still want to vote.