Recently, former Sen. Norm Coleman wrote a piece for the Star Tribune supporting the Voter ID amendment in Minnesota. In his opinion, he wrote:
Is there voter fraud in Minnesota? Yes. Is it rampant and out of control? Not yet. Can the level of fraud, no matter how small, affect the outcome of elections in our state and elsewhere in the nation? Absolutely.
I agree with his premise. Is voter fraud a good thing? No. Is it something we should strive to prevent? Of course. However, what he, and it seems many other conservatives have forgotten is that nothing is free. Everything, including this amendment, has a cost associated with it. Yet, for some reason, this aspect of the voter amendment has completely eluded those who purport to keep government spending in check. This amendment was passed by the Minnesota House and Senate by many politicians who ran on a platform of cutting wasteful government programs. Yet, if this amendment passes, Minnesotans will have to pay for a program that essentially provides no benefit. Is this not wasteful?
As someone who self-identifies as a fiscal conservative, I ask myself two questions about any proposed government program: 1) Does it address an identifiable problem worth solving?; 2) Is the government capable of providing an effective solution to the problem? While any issue will raise considerable debate on both of these questions, the voter ID amendment seems to fail on both of these inquiries. First, studies show that voter fraud is essentially nonexistent. For instance, a News 21 analysis shows that only 10 cases of voter fraud by impersonation have occurred in the United States since 2000. But of 146 million registered voters, this means that only 1 in every 15 million votes involved in-person fraud over the past 13 years. And, if that wasn’t telling enough, not a single one of those 10 cases occurred in Minnesota.