A proposed law requiring a photo ID to vote may invite voter suppression tactics in Minnesota that have been used in other states. Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley/St. Louis Park) pointed that out today as the House Government Operations Committee approved the proposal along a 12-8 party line vote.
The bill, authored by Representative Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) sets up a provisional balloting system. Representative Winkler says under the system, a partisan volunteer for a party could challenge someone’s right to vote and the voter would have to drive to the county auditor’s office if they wanted their vote to count. In rural areas that could be as far as 200 miles. Representative Winkler says that “opens the door for more mischief” since an organized vote challenging could suppress thousands of votes.
Representative Kiffmeyer responds that her bill doesn’t change the state’s poll challenging laws and election judges at the polls will make the decisions. Representative Winkler counters that an organized effort could overwhelm election judges. He also asks why a poll challenger merely has to take an oath and that’s good enough, but a voter would no longer be able to vote by just taking an oath. He says that shifts the burden of proof from the challenger to the voter.
Costs of implementing voter photo ID uncertain
As has happened several times before, HF 210 was the subject of an author’s delete all amendment, which surprised some of the DFL members of the committee who came with amendments assuming the fiscal impact on local units of government. Most of the changes were designed to minimize the fiscal impact of the bill, which is now estimated at $5.2 million by House fiscal staff.
The bill includes spending of $4.5 million using “legislative discretion” to reduce the fiscal impact by limiting appropriations to the Secretary of State and Department of Administration.
The previous version of the bill was projected to have over $6 million in costs for local election officials. Previous testimony by Hennepin County Election Manager Rachel Smith indicated that the new provisional ballot process would require an extra elections judge per precinct. Amendments offered by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL – St. Louis Park) and Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL – Minneapolis) were rebuffed by the Republican majority on the committee.