I’m voting no on the MN Photo ID amendment for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t belong in the constitution. Secondly, while it has to be freely provided to the voter, someone has to pay… and that likely means another unfunded and likely very expensive mandate from the state. Thirdly, even if it is free, the time and effort needed to acquire an ID is likely to disenfranchise some voters. ¬†Fourth, there is no religious exemption, thus opening the door for a first amendment court fight. Fifth, its a spendy solution in search of a near non-existent problem… there are bigger fish to fry as far as election fraud goes.

There are a couple issues with making it a constitutional amendment with the first bit being the issue that photo ID’s are likely to become obsolete at some point down the road. If it were a regular statute, it would be a relative no brainer to update it as the years pass. As a constitutional amendment, it likely will be a real pain and significant cost when time forces it to be changed. Secondly, there will need to be a couple pages or more of legislation spelling out the details of how this will work, and how it will be paid for… and afaik, no one has presented anything remotely concrete in this regard. This business of trust me, it will work out just fine without detailed supporting documentation… never works out too well.

My guess is the legislature will try to play the cost shifting game so as not to raise state income taxes to cover its cost. Ie, the costs of issuing, training / recurrent training for false ID detection will be passed on to local govt.

In addition, the legislature may go so far as to try to push the 24th amendment as far as free goes, such that it will end up in court putting adding even more cost to the boondoggle. Its possible they will say the ID is free as they wont charge for printing and issuing costs… even though a voter may need to spend a couple hundred bucks to acquire and notarize the necessary documents. They likewise might not cover the costs of increased student id fees for changes of address and/or verification every time a student moves.

Of course, some might say a photo ID for voting doesn’t need to meet same criteria as does a MN state ID. Ie, it may be possible to simply have a photo book at the polls, and that said ID would not require a current address… (a utility bill etc may be ok) the question I have, is whats the whole point of photo ID, if you are not making the system robust?

As far as time, effort and cost goes… imagine an elderly person who has always banked at the same location, who quit driving 10 years ago, and has been in a nursing home for the last 5 years. This person would likely need to acquire primary and secondary ID per the MN ID requirements and verification of name change if any. Its quite unlikely for such documents to be readily at hand for an elderly person, and its likely they will require some time and expense to acquire. Next, they would need to present themselves in person at a licensing office. The needed time and effort put forth by the nursing home staff to assist said individuals would need to be paid for… and not billed as increased fees to the nursing home resident, to be in compliance with the 24th amendment.

While it is fairly rare for Amish people to vote, their hard core stance against personal photography is widely known due to their religious view that it conflicts with the graven image commandment. The amendment proposal doesn’t leave any room for a religious exemption, ¬†thus it would seem it would get struck down as being in conflict with the establishment clause. On the other hand, legislation supporting an exemption would then be counter to this state amendment. In other words, this would be messy.

Beyond that, photo ID’s are pretty easy to fake, even the ones with so called security features can be forged without too much effort. Likewise, there are other ways in which an election can be gamed apart from photo ID. In other words, if an individual, campaign, party, or superpac is determined to commit voter fraud, they will do so irrespective of a photo ID requirement.

If photo ID is really that big a deal to folks, (one person in MN contributed over a million bucks) it belongs in the regular legislative process, not in the constitution.