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Edina City Hall | Photo by the author
by Steve Timmer
Sep 23, 2012, 4:30 PM

A third of Edina voters potentially disenfranchised by the photo ID amendment

It is remarkable — and certainly sobering — to recognize that a third of the voters in my hometown of Edina probably could not have voted in 2008 had the photo ID for voting amendment been in place.

In the last presidential election, 31,512 residents of the city voted. Of that number, 3,763, over ten percent, were same day registrants, and 7,316, about 23 percent, were absentees.

The “substanially equivalent” language in the amendment (but not in the ballot question!) would clearly eliminate same day registration. That this effect is intended cannot be debated, because some Republican legislators (and other plaintiffs) tried to accomplish the same thing with a federal lawsuit that was recently dismissed by Judge Donovan Frank.

The amendment does call for provisional ballots if you don’t have the right ID, but a voter will only get a short time post-election to come up with that ID. This will create insurmountable problems for a lot of voters, if travel is required to apply for the ID, or time away from work cannot be arranged, or your birth certificate is deficient in some way like Arne Carlson’s, or the processing agent, the DVS or whoever, is backlogged.

Similarly, it is hard to see how absentee voting can be permitted under the amendment’s “substantially equivalent” language; if you have to present the ID to a sworn and trained election judge in order to vote at the polls, how can you do that while voting absentee?

Vouching will be entirely out, too. There is one nursing home facility in Edina, and the City sends election judges to help residents with vouching and voting absentee. Since many (probably all) of the residents no longer drive, they typically don’t have a driver’s license with their current address (the facility). These are people who paid dues in the club called Minnesota for a long time. It is disturbing — no, it’s disgusting — to think that these people won’t be able to vote.

Edina has 20 precincts and polling stations, many of them small. But there will need to be an additional table crammed into each one for every election for the provisional ballots. And forty additional election judges hired for every election in perpetuity. Edina has budgeted about a quarter of a million dollars for the election in November; that figure will only rise with the cost of the additional election judges, and the cost of maintaining, securing, and counting the allowed provisional ballots.

All of this is why the Edina City Council voted unanimously last week to oppose the amendment.

Edina City Council resolution opposing the "photo ID" for voting amendment

Update – 9/24

Predictably, the Ankle-Biters’ Chorus has arisen to yap that the city has no business messing in matters of state law. They attempt no refutation of the facts in the resolution or their implications, because there can be none. It is flat-out laughable and puerile to contend that city and county officials have no standing to complain about unfunded mandates thrust upon them, or to advocate for the protection of the voting franchise of their residents.

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