Archived Story

Voter ID has support, but voter fraud rare

Published 9:27am Tuesday, September 18, 2012 Updated 11:28am Tuesday, September 18, 2012

By Tim Pugmire

MPR News — 91.5 FM

ST. PAUL — Public opinion polls have consistently shown strong support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Minnesotans show photo identification in to vote.

Supporters of the voter ID amendment claim the requirement is needed to protect the integrity of the state’s election system, which they contend is too loose and open to fraud.

But several studies have found the kind of voter fraud the ID requirement is designed to prevent extremely rare.

Last month, the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education project called “News21″ released an analysis of more than 2,000 alleged election-fraud cases nationwide over the past 12 years. It concluded that while fraud has occurred, the rate is “infinitesimal,” and in-person voter impersonation is “virtually non-existent.”

Such arguments don’t sway voters like Rollie Nissen, of Willmar, Minn. Nissen, who attended a recent campaign event in St. Paul, described voter ID as common sense.

“If there weren’t cheating going on, we wouldn’t need highway patrolmen, game wardens, referees at athletics events,” Nissen said. “All of those things require somebody looking over your shoulder. So, why wouldn’t you take a close look at who’s voting?”

The pro-amendment group Minnesota Majority has been beating the drum on voter fraud for several years. Its leaders have dug through voting records, flagged irregularities and pushed county attorneys for investigations.

Executive Director Dan McGrath, who is also running the pro-amendment campaign Protect My Vote, contends that those efforts resulted in Minnesota topping all states in the number of voter fraud convictions linked to a single election. McGrath said nearly 200 convictions were from 2008, when Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate race by a razor-thin margin in a recount.

“We know from our research that 1,099 ineligible felons voted in that election,” McGrath said. “That’s three times the margin of victory, so fraud played a role. Now, it may have impacted the way the election went. I don’t know. We can’t know that, and that leads to problems, when someone is sitting in office as a representative of the people, and we don’t know whether we actually elected them or not.”

McGrath suspects there are other kinds of fraud, such as voter impersonation, going on in Minnesota. But he concedes that those crimes are difficult to root out.

Voter ID opponents say the amendment wouldn’t do anything to solve the problem McGrath has identified. Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said the proposed requirement will not stop felons who are still on probation from voting, because they could easily possess a valid identification. Samuelson also contends that people trying to vote using someone else’s name simply isn’t happening.

  • Walt Henry

    Let me say at the beginning I have read only three newspaper accounts of today’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on that state’s voter photo ID law. Newspapers are written by journalists and not lawyers so the accounts I’ve read might not be wholly accurate. That said, it seems that state’s highest court needed to know IF it is POSSIBLE to implement the photo ID in such a way as to not be discriminatory and thus deprive citizens of their right to vote and returned the case to a lower court for further investigation.
    So it looks like we now have two things to consider—how much this will add to the cost of government and how will it be fairly implemented.
    One has to wonder, if there are zero cases of voter fraud that photo ID would prevent is it worth either the cost or the risk?

  • Richard Olson

    If this proposal passes it will cost the taxpayers of Minnesota a fortune. Our taxes will have to be increased to pay for it, and it will not stop voter fraud. Some of the people who think this is a good idea will later be writing letters to the editor complaining about their taxes going up.
    Some will not however, because they know this is not about voter fraud but rather voter suppression. For those people it is an excellent bargain. They (conservatives) will get the taxpayers of Minnesota to subsidize their political agenda of suppressing the votes of senior citizens, students, minorities and soldiers who traditionally vote Democratic.

    The current republican nominee Mitt Romney, has through blunder and purpose manages to alienate minorities, students, senior citizens and some active duty soldiers, not to mention, nursing and veteran home residents. The conservative purpose now must be to suppress the vote from those same groups, already alienated, with this ruse of voter ID.

    Even the backers of this deceptive hoax can not supply the name of any voter who committed the fraud this scam is supposed to rectify. The only individual who supposedly knows of any voter fraud cases in Minnesota is another poster who comments here under a phony name and refuses to notify the Minnesota attorney general of the hundreds of cases he is personally aware of.

  • John

    As crazy as this may seem I agree with Richard that this will cost a lot to the taxpayers. I do not know enough on proposed bill but would a valid state drivers licence, passport, military ID, etc suffice as identification for voting? Will this voter ID work as valid ID for job applications, getting prescription meds, etc? Like I stated I am not familiar enough with the proposed bill.

    What I dont agree with Richard is when he stated that “Soldiers” traditionally vote Democrat. I can assure you from experience that the majority of the men and women I have served with both Active Duty and National Guard vote Republican. That being said I also feel I must correct you on you using the term “Soldiers”. For future reference, Soldiers are Army, Marines are Marines, Airmen are Air Force, and Sailors are Navy. The term you were probably looking for was “Service Members” if you were talking about all the men and women in the Armed Forces.

    • Walt Henry

      Estimated costs of voter ID and the group who made the estimates
      combined state and local costs of from $36 million to $78 million.– Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

      $50 million.– State Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat

      roughly $32 million in startup costs for the state, and another $24 million for counties.– state Mnnesota Management and Budget officials

      first-year implementation costs at just $2.9 million.– Center of the American Experiment (estimate based on fewer voters) “It’s certainly possible that the Legislature will come back next year and put into place laws that cost more than we’ve estimated, because we’ve basically laid out the low-cost path,” he said. “But the truth is, the cost will depend on how lawmakers decide to implement this.”–Peter Nelson of the CAE

      It looks like we have to pass it to find out how much it will cost.

      • John

        I havent been able to find if everyone is going to need to get a new form of ID or if current ID’s such as Driver’s Licence, State ID’s, Passports, Military ID, etc qualify. I mean if you take those into consideration which from what im guessing the good majority of the population has then it shouldnt be to insanely expensive to implement this law.

        • Walt Henry

          John, the question each of us should ask ourselves is, “Is it ok if only a good majority of us have the right to vote?”
          Consider these people–a newly married or divorced woman whose name recently changed. A new resident to Minnesota taking a career advancement. A college kid. A couple who have recently moved into a new home. An elderly person who moves form one support community to another.
          And what form of base ID will be acceptable? A birth certificate? An old driver’s license, maybe one from a different sate? A passport–how many people have one of those? As a matter of fact mine expired the day before I started a new job and as it was with a part of local government it was considered NOT to be legal identification.
          The devil is in the details and those we don’t know.
          (Something odd happened to my daughter last year–she was married in early November and got her marriage certificate in Hennepin County. They have a stamped seal. The Social Security Administration wouldn’t recognize it as they prefer embossed stamps.)

  • Richard Olson

    Soldier sol·dier

    sol·dier [sṓljər]
    n (plural sol·diers)
    1. somebody serving in army: somebody who serves in a military organization
    2. army member below officer rank: a member of an army, of a rank below commissioned officer
    3. dedicated worker: somebody who works with dedication for a cause
    4. skilled warrior: a skilled and experienced fighter or military strategist
    5. ant that protects colony: a sterile member of an ant or termite colony with a large head and powerful jaws. Its role is to defend the colony.

    Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    Members of our armed forces are more and more voting Democrat as they come to see how republicans view them and treat them. Especially when they need medical attention. Mitt Romney considers soldiers to be part of that 47% that he considers moochers.

    Just yesterday the republicans blocked the veterans bill pending in congress. The republicans are more than willing to throw veterans under the bus if they can hurt President Obama in the process.

  • John

    Larry I do see your point and understand what your saying. Having valid and current ID can be a hassle. I myself suffered a headache or two whenever I have moved and more of a headache when I was married and had to get my wife’s information up to date. It is a hassle but as a responsible adult it is a task that must be completed. I recently moved back to Fergus Falls and I started to process of updating my required information to get ID’s current, health/car insurance, etc all up to date to make the transition that much easier. So in a way, is it the states fault if people drag their feet on updating their information in order to obtain proper up to date identification? I can see the few rare circumstances as I did move to a new location 2 weeks before voting but I also made it a point to visit my new city hall and explain to them that I recently moved, wanted to exercise my civic right to vote. It was as simple as providing my old ID, a new bill from the power company stating that I have taken over power bills for the residence. So if you really want to vote, there are ways to do it, you just have to be pro active enough to figure out what you need prior to voting day. Its a lot like working, you dont tell your boss the day before that you wont be at work the following day because of a prior commitment.

    The more and more I have thought about this matter the more I am in fact leaning towards voting yes on this subject. It is my right to vote. As it is also my right to bear arms. Every time I have purchased a firearm I have always had to show ID. Granted that comparison is apples to oranges but nevertheless, the principal still remains, you have to show ID.

    • Walt Henry

      John, the mechanics of what it will take to update your information or how quicly it can be done is not yet determined. Some of the newly passed voter ID laws in other states require a certain type of ID issued from a single source with an expiration date. College photo ID’s would not be accepted much less utility bills. Also, it is estimated at least two weeks are necessary to recieve a new ID. This means no weddings after October 15th. No change in adress after October 15; unless of course you don’t want to vote. Again, the devil is in the details and those we do not yet know.

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