« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Ryan Johnson, Published September 24 2012

Carlson, Mondale team up to oppose Minn. voter ID amendment

ST. PAUL – A proposed constitutional amendment to require Minnesota voters to show a photo ID could dramatically raise election costs and suppress at-risk voters while trying to address a problem that doesn’t exist, former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale and former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson said Monday.

The co-chairmen of opposition group Our Vote Our Future outlined their concerns about the amendment, which will be decided by Minnesota voters on the November ballot, during a Monday conference call with reporters.

Carlson said the debate around this amendment will come down to its unclear language, which means even supporters can’t come up with final costs or its effects if it is approved by voters.

He said especially worrisome is the amendment’s requirement that all voters, including those who don’t vote in person, “be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibly verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.”

Carlson said a study done by Hamline University business professor David Schultz found the new requirements could raise state election costs $10 million to $14 million, not including the $26 million to $63 million in extra costs for local governments and as much as

$72 million in new costs that voters would have to pay to follow the new rules.

“The point here is we’re talking about a very, very serious cost impact, and this comes at a time when Minnesota once again has a fairly serious deficit,” he said.

Mondale said the amendment aims to fix a problem that Minnesota doesn’t have. He said two major recounts in the state, one in the 1960s and another during the 2010 gubernatorial election, counted millions of votes but didn’t find any voter issues.

“In both instances, there hasn’t been a single suggestion of fraud or voter manipulation,” he said. “Minnesota may have some problems, but we’re a clean state, and our politics has always been clean.”

Mondale said if passed, he believes the amendment will reduce voter participation, particularly among residents who have trouble getting the right identification and people such as active-duty military members serving overseas who rely on absentee voting to cast their ballot.

He said it also seems to have a “distinct anti-rural” feel to it because residents who don’t now have accepted forms of ID would have to travel long distances to secure the documents.

“I’m hoping that this ill-advised constitutional amendment will be rejected,” he said. “If there is a problem, let the Legislature go at it again and have a proper hearing and include the public in the process.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587