Chapin: Voter ID amendment has 'hidden costs'

The proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID upon voting currently making its way through the Minnesota Legislature could include higher "hidden costs" for the state, an election expert said Tuesday.

Minnesotans should look to the east to see what we could expect under a voter ID requirement, Humphrey School of Public Affairs elections expert Doug Chapin told MPR.

Wisconsin is the only state in the country that has both election-day registration and a photo ID requirement, although the photo ID requirement is being contested in Wisconsin state court.

"They're looking at lines at the polls that could take as long as one minute per voter to validate both new registrants and existing voters," Chapin said. "Given the participation levels in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin, that kind of time begins to add up."

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Chapin said the costs of printing free IDs and lost revenue has so far received much of the focus.

"The bigger cost to look for is the need for additional poll workers at the polls to check IDs the need to recruit new poll workers, either because you need more or because your existing poll workers no longer want to be bothered with having to do the more difficult job," Chapin said.

The voter ID proposal also has direct fiscal costs associated with updating technology and election infrastructure. Minnesota Management and Budget has estimated the first-year local costs at between $8.3 million and $23.3 million.

And a fiscal note from Minnesota Management and Budget found that the price tag depends on the details approved in the legislative session after the amendment is approved by voters.