Visiting New Ulm to chat up the photo ID amendment, state representative and former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who is the public sector co-chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate policy front group that is a major player in the drive to restrict voting rights, tells New Ulm Journal reporter Josh Moniz in Kiffmeyer touts reasons for Voter ID amendment that she is so too for voting rights:
She did not directly answer the question of whether the possibility of disenfranchising even one legitimate voter outweighed any amount of voter fraud. However, she said that she worked hard to get provisional balloting in the amendment because of how highly she valued people’s right to vote.
Apparently, she wasn’t serious back in the day when she put up scary posters in polling places, tried to block urban American Indians from casting ballots, or all those other attempts to restricting voting that Firedoglake’s Phoenix Woman outlined in GOP’s War on Voting, Minnesota Edition: The Twelve Ways of ALEC’s Kiffmeyer to Disenfranchise Us. What kidders they are in Big Lake.
Nothing is going to stop Mary on her quest. Kiffmeyer winged it when the posed a question about how much upturning Minnesota’s voting system would cost. Moniz reports:
Kiffmeyer was also asked about the large cost of overhauling the state voting system if the amendment is approved. She said a great deal of the final cost were yet to be settled. She said that she anticipated the restructuring of proving a ballot’s validity from the back-end to the up-front at voting locations would cover the majority of the cost through savings.
Well, that clarifies things.
Urban mayors speak out
Earlier in the week, Mayors Chris Coleman (St. Paul) and R.T. Rybak (Minneapolis) gave a press conference about those potentially stunning costs for their cities. Right at the end, a reporter asked the mayors–who have worked with greater Minnesota cities–if the problem will affect those of us in rural areas as well. Via the Uptake:
From the people who run elections
Bluestem didn’t have to look far to find local election officials talking about the cost. Back in March, the Fergus Falls Journal reported in City: Voter ID costly mandate, that city Election Administrator Lynne Olson called Kiffmeyer’s beloved provisional ballots an unfunded ballot:
Republicans have argued that the photo ID requirement would not disenfranchise voters because a provisional ballot will be made available for those who do not provide ID (providing free IDs to those with low incomes is also under discussion). However, that provisional ballot amounts to an unfunded mandate, according to Fergus Falls Election Administrator Lynne Olson.
“We would probably have to hire an additional two election judges (per ward) and have a separate ballot box,” she said. The eight new judges would be tasked with checking IDs, and the separate ballot boxes would store the provisional ballots.
“Who’s going to pick up the cost?” she asked. “It’s going to be back on the taxpayers.”
Those provisional ballots might also affect how long it takes before an election outcome is announced. If the amendment makes it to the state constitution, those who voted with provisional ballots would be allowed to present their IDs and allow their votes to be counted for several days after Election Day. If there are a lot of provisional ballots and not very many votes between two candidates (like in 2010, when Jay Cichosz beat Tim Rundquist by one vote in a Fergus Falls City Council election), the outcome likely wouldn’t be known until the provisional ballot period expires, possibly followed by a recount.
“It might be a month and a half before someone can be declared a winner in some cases,” Olson said.
And we thought the Coleman-Franken recount was a good time. Perhaps the Lizard People can help out.
In April, Mankato Free Press political reporter Mark Fischenich wrote in Minnesota voter ID: The devil may be in the details:
For the people who run local elections . . . the issue goes much beyond the standard partisan debate.
“They are not understanding, I don’t think, what they are putting into law,” said Blue Earth County Elections Director Patty O’Connor.
A strict reading of the legislation passed last week leaves serious questions about whether some Minnesota soldiers serving overseas will be able cast an absentee ballot, O’Connor said. The traditional route to casting a ballot by most nursing home residents could disappear. Same-day registration, which has helped Minnesota lead the nation in voter turnout, may be in question without a large investment in new equipment at every precinct in the state.
“It’s going to be a whole new ball game,” O’Connor said.
Nicollet County Auditor Bridgette Kennedy said it initially might seem like a no-brainer that that voters should prove their identity with a state ID card. But the potential negative implications require digging a little deeper. And fixing problems later will be difficult if the requirement is enshrined in the state constitution, according to Kennedy.
“At first glance and at first listen, (people think), ‘Of course, voter ID. Duh,’” she said. “But you have to stop and think a little bit deeper to make it part of the Constitution.”
Fischenich goes on outline other problems–potentially expensive ones–that the amendment will spawn.
At a time when local governments in Greater Minnesota have to cut back, added unfunded mandates for a solution that doesn’t address what problems we do have with our elections–Pawlenty vetoed that–doesn’t make any more sense than restricting voting rights does.
The common sense vote? A no vote on the PhotoId Amendment in November. Consider putting a Vote No sign on your yard or wearing a button from the folks at Our Vote Our Future.
Photo: Mary Kiffmeyer enlisting the New Ulm Battery in her War on Voting?