Voter ID: Election Security vs. Ballot Access

By KBJR News 1

Voter ID: Election Security vs. Ballot Access

May 7, 2012 Updated May 9, 2012 at 12:58 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- It's been an historic debate between election security and ballot access.

Now that the future of Minnesota's voting system is in the hands of voters, election officials want Minnesotans to know exactly what they're deciding on this November.

LeAnn Wallace has more on the heavily divided voter ID amendment.

Minnesota lawmakers spent hours going back and forth on the Voter ID amendment, before finally passing it through both chambers.

"Members what we are talking about is a minimal, extremely minimal burden on voters. Nothing more than anyone would ask you to have in your pocket at the time you do most any type of transaction in life," said Sen. Mike Jungbauer, R - Ease Bethel.

"Voting is a right. It's not block buster, it's not getting a beer, it is not going to the movies. It's a fundamental right," said Sen. John Harrington, D - St. Paul.

Now that the final decision lies with voters, election officials are working to ensure that Minnesotans know exactly what filling in "yes" on the ballot this November will mean.

"It's not just about a voter photo ID. It is adding provisional balloting to our election systems. We don't have that right now and it'll also change Election Day registration" said Kathy Bonnifield.

Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota say there is a recurring problem within the state's election system, but that Voter ID wouldn't fix it.

"The one problem that we have in Minnesota are felons who are voting and many of them aren't even aware that that civil right was taken away from them. A photo ID doesn't have your criminal status on it so it's not a solution to that problem," said Bonnifield.

The League of Women Voters is against the amendment saying it only disenfranchises voters.

"We really believe this will just be a barrier for all kinds of people, not just women. To us this is going backwards rather than forward," said Gay Trachsel.

Still some republicans who pushed through the bill say it's an easy way to tighten up voter confidence and ensure voters are who they are, essentially ending the state's vouching system.

Some argue not everyone has a government issued photo ID.
The language within the bill would require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters.

But according to Bonnifield, we still don't know which types of government issued ID's will be valid until next year, when the 2013 legislature implements the amendment.

In the end, what has become a heavily partisan piece of legislation will inevitably be up to voters this November.

"It's not just about one side saying we want integrity and the other side saying something else. We all want integrity but we are having a discussion and debate about what the definition of integrity is."

You can find the full language of the Voter ID constitutional amendment here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H2738.3.html&session=ls87