Prior to the November elections, there was a state-wide push from elected officials and special interest groups to continue Minnesota’s lax election standards, since the election several of the same individuals have decided to push for even fewer regulations on voting, including bringing early voting and out-of-precinct voting to the state. One elected official however has backtracked on his prior comments.
In September, Mower County Auditor Doug Groh gave an interview published in the Austin Daily Herald “(Groh) ...said he has no doubts in the current voting system, despite a push to require voters to use photo IDs. “In Mower County, I do not have a concern in the integrity of our elections,”” and was cited by the campaign opposed to the Voter ID amendment.
Fast forward to November 21st, when possible voter fraud was uncovered and concern for the integrity of Mower County’s elections was raised after it was suspected that three non-citizens had potentially voted illegally, two allegedly knowingly. Mr. Groh stated "The election process needs to be tightened up". Shortly after that comment was made, three men from Austin were charged with voter fraud (Friday November 30th).
This is exactly the scenario in which opponents of Voter ID said that it would not eliminate, due to the fact that non-citizens have ID — however subsection (c) of the proposed amendment would have in fact eliminated this problem by requiring eligibility verification of all voters before a ballot was cast, or counted.
The fact is that technology exists to verify identity and eligibility of voters at the polling place, and Minnesota’s election system is out of date. While election judges are overwhelmed on election day with same day registrants, after the election things do not get better when all the information needs to be hand entered into the system and verified (after ballots have been counted). Electronic poll books were a possible solution pushed by opponents of Voter ID including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. However when it came to cost estimates of the proposed Voter ID amendment the largest single component of any estimate came from utilizing “E-poll books”, a fact conveniently ignored by opponents.
Now that Voter ID is presumably off the table with a DFL controlled legislature and Governor Dayton’s veto at the ready (despite the legislation being “sent back”), the question becomes, will the past proponents of “e-poll books” continue their push? Minnesota’s election system needs change, and “E-poll books” are a small move in the right direction to catching up with the 21st century. Now it’s time to wait and see.
Final thought: “Minnesota has no voter fraud.”
(Photo from Our Vote Our Future's video “A Simple Thing")