Even without photo ID, election system likely to see changesby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The defeat of the voter ID constitutional amendment, along with the Legislature's flip from Republican to Democratic control, is likely put that issue on indefinite hold. But it won't end the debate over the need for some changes in state election law.
DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and key lawmakers are already talking about ways to alter the voting system during the 2013 legislative session.
The campaign against voter ID relied heavily on a compelling television ad that featured DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson.
"If you're a Democrat, Republican or independent please vote no. This is not good for Minnesota," Carlson said in the ad.
"Send it back to the Legislature, and make them get it right," Dayton added.
Voters defeated the Republican-backed measure but there's a big question about whether voter ID will come up again in the Legislature, which will now be under the control of DFLers who opposed it.
Still, at least one voter ID supporter is expecting a chance to "get it right," just as Dayton suggested in the ad. Republican Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, who was elected to the state Senate on Tuesday, said she's not giving up on voter ID.
"I'm reaching out to Gov. Dayton and saying I'll take you at your word governor. Let's work together and do exactly as you said," Kiffmeyer said.
Kiffmeyer, who was the chief author of the House voter ID bills, has already requested a meeting with Dayton to discuss the issue. Despite the amendment defeat on Tuesday, Kiffmeyer said she remains convinced the public still wants a photo identification requirement in the voting process.
The chief Senate author, Republican Sen. Scott Newman of Hutchinson, is not as eager as Kiffmeyer about revisiting voter ID. Newman said it could be an "exercise in futility."
"I would if I received some specific indication that it was going to receive some bipartisan support. And if they give us an indication as to what they would be willing to have included in the bill," Newman said.
Democrats won't suddenly embrace the proposal that they voted against last session and spent several months campaigning against. But some say they are willing to talk about other ballot and voter integrity issues. Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, said he thinks there's plenty of room for some bipartisan reforms.
"I think we all agree that there are ways, pretty un-intrusive ways, that we can reduce the number of ineligible felons who might vote accidentally or otherwise, by better involving the court and the public safety system and by doing a better job of notifying people when their civil rights, including voting rights, are restored," Simon said.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was a frequent critic of the voter ID proposal. But he said he thinks the momentum built from that debate can now be used to make some improvements in the election system.
He still favors the switch to an electronic poll book system, which would allow election judges to log onto a state database to verify a voter's identity and eligibility. Ritchie also favors an expansion of Minnesota's early voting options, which he said could save money, shorten lines at polling places, and speed up the ballot counting after the polls close.
"I do think there is an appetite for thinking about things that can give voters the options that they are clearly saying out loud and demonstrating by their actions that they want," Ritchie said.
Ritchie said the Task Force On Election Integrity, which Dayton established in 2011, is scheduled to release a report in January, along with several specific recommendations for improving the current system. It's initial report nine months ago dealt primarily with the felon voting issue.
- All Things Considered, 11/08/2012, 5:20 p.m.