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.