SLP Stands Against Voter Photo ID

By a unanimous vote, council members said they oppose the amendment question that will be on November's ballot.

This November, Minnesota voters will decide whether photo IDs should be required the next time they go to the polls.

Count the five members of the St. Louis Park City Council present at a Monday night meeting among those who will be voting against the proposed constitutional amendment.

By a 5-0 vote, the Council passed a resolution that opposes the amendment (see full text below). Jeff Jacobs and Sue Santa were absent Monday.

"I think our constitution is really about protecting people, not taking away rights,” councilwoman Julia Ross said.

Aggie Leitheiser, president of the St. Louis Park chapter of the League of Women Voters, applauded Council's decision.

“Our organization was founded 92 years ago with the vision of fair and open elections at every level,” she said.

Added councilman Jake Spano: “Our constitutional rights around voting are too important. We need to cherish and protect them.”

Council members Steve Hallfin and Anne Mavity both cited very personal reasons for opposing the amendment. Hallfin said he was serving in the military in 1988 and voted absentee. He added he was concerned about what the amendment could do to absentee balloting.

"I think of that, and that’s enough for me," Hallfin said. "I don’t want any of our service members’ votes not counting.”

Mavity said she lived in Russia for four years before moving to St. Louis Park 14 years ago, and saw firsthand people struggling for democracy.

“I’m worried we have forgotten the value of voting,” she added.

St. Louis Park's legislative delegation—Democrats Steve Simon and Ryan Winkler in the House, and Democrat Ron Latz in the Senate—all voted against voter photo ID bills last session.

City staff estimates that if the amendment is approved, it will cost the city about $11,000 to implement in 2013. It would then cost around $5,180 per year thereafter. New costs would come from additional election judge training, as well as getting secure containers and locks for provisional ballots (those cast by people without IDs that would be counted only if they can later provide ID).

Here is the full Council resolution passed on Monday:

WHEREAS, the 2012 Minnesota State Legislature voted to include the following question on the election ballot at the 2012 General Election: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”; and

WHEREAS, the proposed constitutional amendment would deny the right to vote to any eligible voter who is not able to provide a mandated government-issued document; and

WHEREAS, the proposed constitutional amendment will end Minnesota’s same-day voter registration as we know it, replacing it with provisional voting, which will require voters without a qualified ID to cast a provisional ballot to be counted only if the voter goes to the local elections office within a few days after the election and shows a qualifying ID; and

WHEREAS, this requirement will delay the reporting of election results and risks the potential of contested election results if as many provisional ballots go uncounted as in other states; and

WHEREAS, requiring photo identification and provisional voting adds unnecessary complexity to voting and delays in the polling place at a higher cost to taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, this requirement will also negatively impact the voters registering at the polls on the Election Day, and those voting by absentee ballot including military and overseas voters; and

WHEREAS, the State of Minnesota is widely acknowledged to have one of the best election systems in the United States, and there has been no evidence of voter impersonation, which is the only type of voter fraud prevented by a photo identification requirement; and

WHEREAS, the high level of accuracy and integrity of the election system in Minnesota has been confirmed by statewide recounts in 2008 and 2010; and

WHEREAS, this proposed amendment will cost millions of taxpayer dollars to implement and operate, including the start-up and ongoing costs to local governments of the new provisional voting system, the cost of producing and issuing free voter ID cards, voter education about the new voting system, among other expenses, and these new costs will fall largely on local and county taxpayers, resulting in higher property taxes or the elimination of other services; and

WHEREAS, it is the position of the City Council that the Constitution of the State of Minnesota does not exist to codify discrimination and exclusion, but instead to protect individual rights and encourage voter engagement and participation; andCity Council Meeting of June 18, 2012 (Item No. 8b) Page 4 Subject: Constitutional Amendment – Photo Identification for Voting

WHEREAS, it is the position of the City Council that the voter identification requirement would disproportionately impact the absentee voters from the City of St. Louis Park’s five healthcare facilities who are vouched for by facility employees as allowed by current law;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the City Council of the City of St. Louis Park, that the City of St. Louis Park joins with the coalition of organizations that oppose the proposed constitutional amendment to restrict the voting rights of Minnesotans by mandating government issued documents as a condition for voting;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of St. Louis Park urges Minnesota voters to vote “no” on the proposed constitutional amendment at the Tuesday, November 6, 2012 state general election.

Joe June 19, 2012 at 01:16 PM
It bothers me that the City Council (and other levels of government) spends time and money on resolutions such as these that don't do or count for anything. Furthermore, I don't care what the City Council thinks on the issue; the City Council doesn't get a vote. That's why this is going on the ballot as an amendment. Resolutions like this can be confusing to citizens. It makes it sound like City Council has decided on all of our behalf what the outcome will be and needn't even put the amendment on the ballot. I, for one, will be voting 'Yes' to this constitutional amendment. A government issued photo ID is easy enough to get and I don't believe it discriminates against anyone.
Michael Rose (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Joe raises an interesting question: Is this the place for City Council in the first place? Putting aside your thoughts on the voter ID question, do you want to see your Council putting forth resolutions like this?
Daniel June 19, 2012 at 08:01 PM
No, it is not the place of the City Council. Council members have the right to their own votes but resolutions like this are mearly an attempt to sway voters. I can bet the Council members are in fear of a fair election and to see that the number of votes are not quite so skewed in their favor as they have been in the past.
Julie M June 22, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Each city is in charge of its elections. For a city to come out against a badly written amendment should not be seen as something bad or frivolous. Just asking for Photo ID is one thing. Changing all sorts of election rules and laws via a constitutional amendment is not a good idea. And when an amendment is so fuzzily written, you have no idea what you are voting for or against. And constitutional amendments are not like regular statutes and regulations. The question, as worded makes people think they are just voting to have their ID checked. They are not. This is much further reaching, and goes into the elections process itself.
Julie M June 22, 2012 at 07:48 PM
You are not just voting on having your ID checked. That is why it is so important to understand what the question on the ballot actually means. If that is all it was, just checking the ID of people on the roster, I'd be 100% behind it. But it is not. And it shouldn't be so strange for a city to come out against something like this. The city is in charge of the elections. So many people do not understand how the elections are run, but surely it is better to make it as difficult as possible for people to vote. This is also directly affecting cities by cost factor alone. Are you aware, people have been accidentally purged off the roster. If that happened to you, and you had to "re-register" only to get a provisional ballot that may or may not ever be counted, you might not be so happy about it. This is something you want to vote for? I don't think it discriminates against anyone either, as people have to prove who they are somehow. A photo ID proves who you are, not where you live. If we really want to crack down, a voter should have a photo ID and a utility bill that is current to prove they do live in the precinct, not just that at one time they did. If you move from Edina to St. Louis Park, and your ID doesn't have your proper address on it, what is stopping you from going to your old precinct to vote for president or US Senator? Nothing. See the problem already? The amendment will fix nothing, and cost a lot more money.
Julie M June 22, 2012 at 07:57 PM
It shouldn't be surprising, as the city is in charge of elections, and they have to foot the cost to implement a new system and maintain it years after. We have a pretty forward thinking city to begin with, I can't say I would expect something like this from City Council, but I am not shocked by it either. This amendment would directly affect the city. Why wouldn't the city have something to say about it? My question, will Bloomington come out against it? They are another city that holds yearly elections. The bottom line for cost alone is a big one for cities.


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