MN GOP Pushes For Photo-ID Voting Bill, DFL, Secretary of State Responds

Red tape that could disenfranchise voters or protection from voter fraud? We’ll hear the arguments again today as the Republican party resurrects its push for a photo-ID requirement for voting.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie responds to the Republican proposal:

Minnesota continues to lead our nation in elections. Improvements made to our voting system in 2010 resulted in higher rates of successful participation by our military personnel and a more efficient absentee ballot process.

Election officials from townships, cities and counties are again working closely with the Office of the Secretary of State and legislators to streamline election procedures in ways that will lower costs while improving services to voters. Proposals with broad support will be introduced after careful study and fiscal analysis.

Election law changes should be made with bi-partisan support. This approach has guided Governors Carlson and Pawlenty in the past and has been re-affirmed by Governor Dayton. It appears that House File 210 was not developed through a careful bi-partisan process like the one that led to successful election reform in 2010.

This omnibus bill contains a wide range of expansive and expensive election law changes. Careful research and analysis of this bill will certainly be necessary to determine the exact cost and impact on local and state governments. For instance, connecting 5,000 electronic poll books statewide could cost more than $20 million. The bill’s implications will also be analyzed by groups who would be affected including absentee and military voters, seniors, and voters with disabilities.

At a time when lawmakers are looking to streamline government and create efficiencies, HF 210 includes many proposals that would significantly increase the state’s budget deficit and create higher on-going costs for cities, counties and townships.

This bill is an expensive vision for elections. It is important that we approach the administration of elections in a fiscally responsible manner that avoids increasing costs or shifting costs to already budget-strapped local governments to be paid by increased property taxes.


Editor’s Note: Summary of House File 210

Article I: Voter Registration, Photo ID & Provisional Balloting

Election Day Registration:
Changes documents allowed so that only the following may be used:
* current driver’s license or state ID
1 Tribal ID that contains all info contained on driver’s license
2 Student fee statement with current address along with a driver’s license or state ID from any state
3 receipt for Minnesota driver’s license / state ID from Department of Public Safety (DPS) along with one of the following:

* driver’s license or state ID from any state that is expired or has wrong address

1 US passport
2 any photo ID from a branch, dept., agency, entity or subdivision of Minnesota or federal government
3 student ID, if the college has provided a housing list

[Options that would no longer be allowed:
* utility bill or rent statement along with a photo ID (including: Minnesota driver's license or state ID that's expired or has wrong address, US Passport, Military ID, Student ID, Tribal ID)

1 student ID in combination with a student list, unless student also has a receipt for a driver's license or state ID

2 vouching by a registered voter
3 vouching by an employee of a residential facility
4 Tribal IDs that contain the name, address, signature and picture, but do not contain other elements contained on a driver's license

5 valid learner's permit with current address
6 valid registration in the same precinct
7 notice of late registration]

Photo ID:

Creating IDs:
* DPS must provide free IDs
1 IDs may only be obtained from Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) facilities
2 when applying for new card or renewal, applicant must provide verification that they are at least 18, are citizens, and will have maintained residence in MN for 20 days

3 creates a state account to pay for cards

Checking Photo IDs:

all voters must present a photo ID when voting in person
anyone who cannot provide photo ID must vote a provisional ballot

Acceptable Photo IDs (list is similar to, but not identical to list for Election Day Registration (EDR):
* driver’s license or state ID with address
1 Tribal ID with all info contained on driver’s license
2 receipt for a driver’s license or state ID along with a driver’s license from any state that is expired or contains the wrong address

Provisional Ballots:

Following voters must vote provisional ballots:

anyone unable to provide photo ID
listed as “challenged” on the roster
anyone who is challenged in the polling place

Process for Provisional Ballots:
* voter signs provisional roster and fills out envelope
1 envelopes must be placed in secure provisional ballot box
2 voters must personally appear before county auditor or municipal clerk within 7 calendar days
3 provisional ballot may be counted if:
* Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) indicates voter is eligible or, if challenged, voter provides evidence of eligibility; and

1 voter provides proof of identity and residence (proof for EDRs)

* county or city must send letters to notify voters whose provisional ballots are not counted
1 prior to counting any provisional ballots, must perform reconciliation with signatures on provisional roster

Article 2: Election Administration & Integrity


Rules promulgated by the secretary of state must be first approved by the legislature. Applies to rules adopted in the past, present and future.

Voter Registration:
* failure to check the citizenship or age box causes the form to be deficient
1 repeals language that states that failure to provide a birthdate for someone registered prior to Aug. 1983 does not make their registration deficient

2 all voter records must be maintained for 36 months
3 if voter has asked to have vr data withheld for own safety, voter’s name and address will be withheld, but city, precinct and voting history must be provided on public information list

Statewide Voter Registration System:
* eliminates option for counties to take more than 42 days to enter election day registrations
1 requires Postal Verification Cards (PVCs) be mailed to all election day registrants by Jan. 1 following the election

2 renames “voting history” for voters whose ballots were late or rejected

Absentee Ballot Boards:
* meetings must be scheduled, announced, and posted on website at least 14 days before the first meeting
1 meetings must be convened every business day at same time and location
2 must also meet on every day when office is open for voting
3 may not meet at other times

Inspection of voting materials:
* allows rosters to be inspected prior to the posting of history
1 allows VRAs to be inspected prior to entry into SVRS

Prohibits Assistance to Voters from:

voter’s guardian
voter’s conservator
any paid individual providing health care
any paid individual provided health-related personal assistance

* requires the counting of original signatures or receipts generated by electronic pollbook that has voter’s name, voter identification number and signature

1 prohibits reconciliation by counting any other receipts
2 allows challenges to ballots without judge’s initials during a recount
“excess” ballots must be removed and put in sealed envelope
3 excess ballots must be removed in the polling place – ballots are no longer to be transported to local election official for help

4 results from precincts with excess ballots removed must be tabulated by canvassing board

Spoiled and Defective ballots:
* spoiled ballots must be marked “spoiled” and put in sealed envelope
1 defective ballots must be marked “defective” and put in a separate sealed envelope, unless it requires duplication – then it’s an original ballot

Changes to summary statement:
* adds number of ballots cast
1 changes number of voters to number of signatures
2 adds number of excess ballots

Election Contests:
* extends contest period in cases in which data entry is not completed by the end of the contest period due to nonfeasance, malfeasance or failure to perform duties within required timeline

1 after contest has been filed, allows candidates to inspect all election materials

Political Buttons:
* allows any political button in a polling place, as long as it is not designed to influence voting on a candidate / question on that ballot

Judicial Elections:
* repeals designation of incumbent

Article 3 – Electronic Rosters

Required Use:
* requires use of at least two electronic rosters in all precincts, unless there are fewer than 100 registered voters (additional electronic rosters may be provided at local expense)

1 each precinct must have secure electronic connection to SVRS to prevent multiple voting
2 exception if local official certifies that can’t have live link: then must have two computer connected together

3 separate electronic rosters must be used for each precinct in combined polling places

Minimum Standards:
* includes all data from SVRS on eligible and ineligible voters
1 permits data entered to be immediately accessible across the state
2 provides printed voter receipt with voter’s name, address, date of birth, voter ID, oath and space for signature

3 alerts judge if voter has already voted, is ineligible or is challenged
4 allows for swiping of Minnesota driver’s licenses or state IDs
5 permit for manual entry of data

* initial costs paid by the state (however no appropriation line)
1 subsequent costs paid by local election officials from cost savings

Contingency and Security Procedures:
* local election officials must establish written security procedures
1 must include security of transmission of voter data, contingency procedures for network and power failure, backups, prevention of voting twice

2 written procedures must be submitted to secretary of state for approval
3 timelines are established for submission of procedures, approval, and revisions, if necessary

Other Standards:
* sets minimum standards for data encryption
1 sets minimum electronic roster transaction requirements (response times)
2 pre-election testing procedures

Article 4 – Recounts

Enacts a new recount chapter (204E) consisting primarily of current requirements found in 204C and administrative rules. Only deviations from the current statute or rules are noted here.

The canvassing board may not certify the results of the recount until a candidate has been able to inspect all election materials (no deadline for completion is provided)

* Eliminates the definition of “identifying mark” as a name, signature or ID number written on the ballot

Only the canvassing board may determine if challenges are frivolous

Repeals ability to count more than one precinct at a time


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