Saturday, March 10, 2012

Voter ID compromise proposed in Minnesota

Idea would "protect" imagined threat while protecting voter access to the polls

A lot of hubbub is being made over the controversial voter ID bill in Wisconsin, with good reason: the law disenfranchises thousands of voters, mostly minorities and the elderly. In one case, an octogenarian woman from Brokaw, Wisconsin, will have to pay $200 to get an ID because she wasn't ever given a birth certificate and never needed an ID previously.

In all, over 177,000 elderly Wisconsinites could be affected by the new voter ID law, as well as half of all African Americans in the state.

This past week, a judge placed a temporary injunction against the law. It was announced yesterday that a decision would be made Monday over its legality.

Wisconsin's voter ID law is similar to many others that have been passed or proposed in the rest of the country. With the potential to affect millions of voters across various states, the impact could potentially change the outcome of countless elections.

But our state's neighbor to the northwest has a different proposal. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has put out an idea that is a compromise of sorts to the two sides, possibly appeasing both those concerned over disenfranchisement and those who want to ensure that fraud doesn't occur (despite it's already-low occurrence rate):
With an electronic "poll book," eligible voters who have lost an ID or no longer carry one could come to the polling place and have their electronic information pulled up from state records, [Secretary of State Mark] Ritchie said.

He said about 84,000 Minnesota voters don't carry photo ID, but in many cases, they would have photos in the state drivers' database. For those who don't, another ID could be scanned in or a photo could be taken at the polling place.

"We would not be disenfranchising anybody and we would not be breaking the bank," Ritchie said.
It will be interesting to see if this idea takes off. If it does, it could move on to other states where voter ID is liked without disenfranchising as many people. If it's not adopted by Republicans, however, it seems clear that the idea of voter ID is more about restricting access to the polls than any true concerns over imagined voter fraud.

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