Guest column: Photo ID – A simple solution to voting problems
by Mary Kiffmeyer – Guest Columnist
Opponents of Photo ID claim there is “no problem.” But, how could you possibly know that 2.8 million voters are who they say they are without a photo ID requirement?
From the 2008 presidential election, we have over 6,200 ballots out of 23,000 cast by voters who still cannot be found. How do you prosecute a voter or find out if their vote is eligible if you cannot find them? It is too late to remove their ballot and somehow the rest of us are expected to just believe they were all eligible. That just doesn’t make sense when a simple solution like photo ID exists.
Minnesota is the 34th state to propose strengthening the integrity of the voting process using an ID requirement, 17 of which require the voter’s photo. Several countries around the world, including Canada and Mexico, employ some form of voting identification. Minnesota’s vouching system is one of only two states that use it and not used anywhere else in the world!
Opponents of photo ID say that previous recounts have gone smoothly so all must be well. But recounting ballots is at the end of the process and by state law, cannot account for fraudulent voters. Counting ballots accurately that never should have been in the ballot box to begin with is NOT a measure of a good election system.
The photo ID amendment would require a voter to show a government-issued valid form of photo identification, something that at least 98 percent of registered Minnesota voters already have. This proof of identification would include a state ID, a driver’s license, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military identification card or a tribal ID card.
For those select few who do not already possess a valid government issued ID, the amendment also includes a provision requiring the state to make state-issued photo IDs available to the public, free of charge.
Current constitutional voting eligibility requirements gives citizens the right to vote if eligible. A voter must be 18 or older on Election Day, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Minnesota for at least 20 days. Felons without rights being restored or under guardianship also do not have the right to vote.
There is nowhere else in society today, including union elections and the Democratic National Convention, that operates without an ID requirement. So why would we not take something as valuable as a ballot, which controls the future of our government, just as seriously?
Furthermore, there is nothing in this amendment that requires any local government spending above what is currently spent today running elections as they usually do.
Mail balloting, absentee voting and same day registration in Minnesota will continue if voters approve the amendment this November. There is not one word in the amendment that would eliminate these methods of voting.
The current Minnesota absentee ballot already asks for a form of eligibility verification through a driver’s license number or social security number. The only difference is that, as with military and overseas absentee ballots, these boxes would become a requirement not optional as now. Mail balloting, under the amendment, would allow for a voter to provide a witness signature to confirm that the voter presented a valid form of identification.
If a voter forgets to bring an ID, they would cast a provisional ballot, which 44 other states use to ensure every single voter can vote. They will have time to verify their identity with a local election official (including any city, township or county office) between Election Day and the official certification of the election seven days later. Then results will be included in the official tally. In similar sized states as Minnesota, provisional ballots account for on average of approximately 1.5 ballots per precinct, not the outrageous number claimed by opponents.
Armed Forces deployed overseas would most certainly be able to vote if the amendment passes. These voters are protected federally under the MOVE Act and UOCAV Act and thus are not affected by state laws or constitution.
With this constitutional photo ID amendment, our election system will continue to be easy to vote while using a photo ID will make it harder to cheat.
Kiffmeyer is a Minnesota State Representative (R-Big Lake) and a former Secretary of State. She was a chief author on the photo ID constitutional amendment bill.