Commentary - Clerks express concerns over voter IDWe are city and township clerks representing other city and township clerks, but we are not representing city or township governments. We are non-partisan officials, who hold various personal political party convictions and are the head election officials in our various precincts.
Editor’s note: The Echo Press is printing the following commentary to help voters get a fuller understanding of the voter ID amendment that will be on the ballot this fall. The writers hold non-partisan clerk positions.
By Adrian Ledermann, Brandon Township clerk; Rebecca Anderson, Carlos Township Clerk; and Marcia Okerlund, Carlos City clerk
We are city and township clerks representing other city and township clerks, but we are not representing city or township governments. We are non-partisan officials, who hold various personal political party convictions and are the head election officials in our various precincts. We have the following serious concerns regarding the proposed Voter ID Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution on the November election ballot.
The ballot title and question on the ballot will not provide all the necessary information for voters to be completely informed; so consider the following information from the proposed constitutional amendment (amendment wording found in bold print) Section 1. (b)All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. A voter unable to present a valid government-issued ID must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot cannot be placed in the regular ballot box and will be counted only if and when the voter provides a valid ID at a later date which will cause election reporting delays, and require additional election judge activity and costs to review the ID application and later ballot counting. (c) All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted. Voters who vote by absentee ballot or mail ballot whether in the military or out of the country on business, etc. will be challenged to meet this verification requirement. Persons with no driver’s license, those with no birth certificate, many elderly, those with no permanent home address, the impoverished, students who move often, and others will be negatively affected by these requirements. Many may be unable to vote, leading to the suppression of many voters.
The voter ID amendment eligibility verification requirement will almost eliminate same day voter registration because our local precincts will not be able to verify the new registrant unless each precinct purchases a computer and the election judge goes online with the Division of Vehicle Services and/or Social Security Administration databases. Actually, there will not be an effective way to conduct all the necessary checks while the voter is standing in line at the polling place.
The present Minnesota election laws have proven to be very fair (only 153 felon cases convicted in 2008 out of 2.9 million voters — a problem not fixed with voter ID; no voter impersonation cases in the last 50 years) and have led to some of the highest turnouts of voters compared to other states. To put this amendment on the Constitution to fix a problem that does not exist only compounds people’s right to vote, and compounds our task as election officials. Our Minnesota Constitution seeks to give people the right to vote and should be kept at that. Any election reform policy should be regulated by legislation completed by the legislative and executive branches of government across all political party lines.
As election officials in our various jurisdictions, we take the oath to uphold our Constitution and our election laws and will continue to do so. We are honored to assist all people in their right to vote in our great democracy.