A photo identification requirement to vote in Minnesota is a contentious issue that could again surface as a newly-formed state task force launches a study of electronic poll book technology. Part of the research will look at the use of photographs as a way to verify voter eligibility. Last fall, Minnesota voters turned down a Republican-backed proposed constitutional amendment to require photo identification at election polls. The task force meets for the first time Tuesday. Electronic poll books are a computer-based alternative to the paper rosters that voters currently sign their name to at polling places on Election Day. Instead of signing in, a voter’s driver’s license or some other identification is swiped by a card reader, and their pre-loaded information is displayed on a computer monitor. The city of Minnetonka tested such technology in recent elections and City Clerk David Maeda said he was pleased with the results.
“The feedback from my election judges is just all positive. They really thought this was something that helped them do their jobs better,” Maeda said. “And in some cases, I don’t think in all cases, but in some cases it reduced the time people had to wait in line.”
Under the omnibus elections bill that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law in May, Minnetonka and four other cities will participate in an electronic roster pilot project during this fall’s municipal elections. The law established the 15-member task force that in the upcoming months will study electronic rosters, including the ability to use photographs provided by the Department of Vehicle Services and the ability to add photographs to the roster on Election Day.