Often, voters hope their ballot isn't canceled out by their partner, but nobody I know wants it canceled out by a fraudulent voter. Personally, as a Minnesota citizen, I believe all legal voters have the right to expect the state to count and protect each and every legitimate vote. (Thus the Voter ID Amendment on the November Ballot.)
But Mark Ritchie, our Secretary of State, doesn't think so. His position on validating legal votes is it will cost too much and could delay election results by a week or more. (DL Record 9/2/12). Surely he jests! Haven't we seen election results drag on for months in this state, often involving voting irregularities, and how much does that cost?
Ritchie goes on to state that if the Voter ID Amendment is approved, "half a million people's votes won't be counted for a week -- it will change the outcome." Touché'! Most Minnesotans don't care how long it takes, we want the outcome to be determined by legitimate voters!
Ritchie surely knows that elections have consequences. Look at a couple recent Minnesota elections. In 2008, Minnesota's U.S. Senate race was decided by just 312 votes. In 2010 a State Representative was elected by only a 13 vote margin. The outcome of the Senate race provided the critical deciding vote, allowing passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care), and how much is that costing us? Every vote does count!
I am an election judge, and I believe the election officials across Minnesota serve with integrity. But we are handicapped on election day by current election procedures. Currently, an unregistered person can walk into a polling place, complete an acceptable registration application, cast a regular ballot, which is tallied with the other ballots, and leave. After the election, all newly registered voters are mailed a postal verification card. The postcard confirms their registration and also is intended to verify that the voter actually lives in the precinct at the registered address.
In the last Presidential election, 6,224 postcards were returned as undeliverable! Some of these voters likely were legitimate. Certainly others were not, but their votes counted anyway, because their ballots can't be traced back! Furthermore, the State can't prosecute them because they can't be found, and even if they were found it would be hard to prove it was they who voted.
A more flagrant example of loose voting procedures concerns felons who, under Minnesota law, are prohibited from voting until they have finished serving probation. Yet in 2008 over 1,000 felons voted! The Voter ID Amendment will halt this atrocity.
The proposed Voter ID Amendment continues to allow same day registration and balloting, but provides a safeguard by using provisional ballots whenever a voter can't provide photo I.D. documentation. These provisional ballots are set aside for up to a week, allowing validation by the voter. All validated provisional ballots are then added to the regular ballot count and the others are discarded. The good news then is the provisional ballot doesn't disenfranchise legitimate voters but it surely discourages non-citizen voters, impersonators voting for deceased persons, fictional voters and double voters (vote early, vote often) from ever showing up at the polls. Nationally, 80 percent of provisional ballots cast are ultimately validated and counted.
Existing Photo ID's that are valid include driver's licenses as well as military and tribal ID's. That translates into as high as 97 percent of eligible voters already having the necessary identification. Anyone who does not have a Photo ID will be provided one by the state free of charge. That means no one should be left with their voting rights disenfranchised.
The bottom line is the Voter ID Amendment will accomplish two major goals for Minnesotans -- It will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat! Give a thumbs up to achieving those goals by voting "yes" on November 8. -- Ben E. Farner, Detroit Lakes