Minnesota’s legislature continues to move closer to a vote that would put a voter ID constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot. Generally, the debate in Minnesota has focused on the typical points of disagreement in the nationwide voter ID debate; namely, supporters’ fear of fraud vs. opponents’ fear of disenfranchisement. One issue, however, that isn’t discussed as much but is very much on peoples’ minds in the debate is the state’s longstanding tradition of Election Day registration (EDR). EDR is a key feature of the state’s electoral and political history, but has been a source of tension between the political parties. In particular, many Republican legislators have expressed concern about the ability of voters to “vouch” for an EDR registrant at the polls, suggesting that such procedures create an opportunity for fraud – especially since EDR voters cast real votes that cannot be “taken back” if fraud is discovered or proven. Minnesota Democrats (or DFL, for Democrat-Farmer-Labor) counter that there is little evidence that such fraud actually occurs.
This becomes a factor in Minnesota’s ID debate because of concerns that requiring proof of identity would create a significant barrier to EDR and might discourage people from voting. As I blogged last October, the city of Madison, WI ran an experiment that suggested that the combination of voter ID and EDR could result in lines that moved forward at a rate of one to four minutes per person in line.