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Voter ID supporters dispute Ramsey Co. election cost estimates

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Supporters of a constitutional amendment to require voters to show government-issued ID at the polls say they doubt claims that the plan will push biennial local election costs in Ramsey County to more than $1 million.

County officials estimate that having enough staff and equipment to check IDs and confirm voter eligibility will cost an additional $1.7 million for each two-year election cycle. They say that property tax payers may have to foot the bill.

But Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority and a proponent of the amendment said he thinks the only significant expense will be providing free IDs by the state.

"I don't think that there should be any expectation that it's going to cost the counties or municipalities any significant amount of money," he said. "I think we can expect the state to bear the overwhelming majority of whatever costs are associated with the legislation."

The Legislature voted to put a voter ID requirement on the November 2012 ballot earlier this year so voters will decide if the requirement should be added to the state constitution.

Ramsey County may consider an innovative response to the voter ID rule if voters amend the constitution to require: Issuing IDs to voters at polling places.

Mansky said the proposed amendment could make voting difficult for thousands of county residents each year who change their addresses, and the polling-place IDs may offer a solution, Mansky told the county board Tuesday.

"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."