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Take a closer look

October 8, 2012
Fairmont Sentinel

To the Editor:

Proponents tell us the elections amendment on the ballot this November is no big deal because the state will provide a free ID card to anyone currently without one.

A closer look reveals that passage of the amendment would mean much more - and would impact taxpayers in Martin County.

As noted by Cass County Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson, "Mailed balloting would no longer be allowed because voters do not vote in person where they can show identification."

St. Louis County Auditor Don Dicklich echoed those concerns, saying: "It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars just to build accessible polling locations ... unless we are able to ask them to drive a long way to another township that has a polling place. In which case, how many people simply won't bother to vote?"

Should the amendment pass, counties would be compelled to convert these precincts to in-person voting, requiring purchases of ballot counters and markers, salaries for election judges and renovations to make facilities accessible to the disabled.

According to a recent analysis by the nonprofit nonpartisan Citizens for Election Integrity-MN, these updates would be required in one of Martin County's 37 voting precincts, costing local taxpayers an estimated $19,500. When combined with other amendment mandates, however, the overall price tag could top $230,000.

A study this spring by scholars at the U of M's Humphrey School of Public Affairs estimated $68.5 million in first-year costs, when state and local expenditures are combined. Individuals currently without ID would kick in another $16 million or more to secure documents, such as birth certificates, necessary to obtain the voter card.

It's already forecast that Minnesota will face a $1.1 billion deficit in the next two-year budget cycle, which begins July 1 of next year.

It taxes the imagination that some would claim tens of millions more in spending is no big deal. But even more outrageous will be the bump in taxes we'll all pay if the amendment passes in November.

Cynthia Moothart,

policy director,

League of Rural Voters




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