Ramsey Co. elections official estimates photo ID cost per biennium at $1.7 mil.by Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Elections officials in Ramsey County may consider an innovative response to a photo identification requirement if voters amend the constitution to require it this fall.
Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky said the requirement could make voting difficult for thousands each year of county residents who change their addresses. Mansky told the county board Tuesday that they might want to consider providing IDs to voters at the polling places.
"If people bring in the right documents, it strikes me that it would be possible for our election judges, who are working for us, to issue them a photo ID card right on the spot," Mansky said. "I don't have a specific plan to do that, but I don't see reason why we should not look into that as one possible way of implementing this, again, should it become amended."
Mansky estimates the new photo ID requirement would cost Ramsey county about $1.7 million per two-year election cycle, because of the need for more equipment and election judges to carry out the verification.
But Dan McGrath, chairman of Protect My Vote.com, said Ramsey county shouldn't have to pay anything.
"There's nothing in the constitutional amendment that says anything about any financial obligation to the counties or to local governments," McGrath said. "The only thing that's mentioned is the cost is specifically borne by the state and that's providing free IDs. So when Mansky says that the county might have to pay for identification or distributing identification, it's fantasy."
Mansky told county officials that the most immediate result would be to catch an average of about 40 ineligible voters, based on what he has seen of attempts to unlawfully register in Ramsey County in the last three election cycles. He urged officials to begin planning for the additional costs, should voters pass the photo ID amendment in November.