The common sense solution

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, advocate for voter ID constitutional amendment
Minnesota House of Representatives

By Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer

We've all heard it at the polling place - "Do I need to show my ID?" - and wondered, "Why not?"

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

It's hard to do anything these days without having to prove who you are. Why is it that voting, the most important function of our democracy, doesn't require any form of identification?

The simple form of the problem lies in Minnesota's severe lack of checks for fraud. Minnesota is one of only two states that allow for the process of "vouching" on Election Day, and the only state that allows a single voter to vouch for up to 15 other voters!

In a system that is set up to avoid verifying the identity of a voter, how could we possibly know that 2.8 million voters are who they say they are?

From the 2008 presidential election, there are still over 6,200 voters who cast ballots that still cannot be found. How do you find out if a vote is eligible if you cannot find the voter? The whole process doesn't make sense when such a simple solution exists.

Minnesota would be the 34th state to strengthen the integrity of the voting process using an ID, and 17 of those states require a photo. Moreover, several countries around the world, including Canada and Mexico, employ some form of voting identification.

The reason this process is so widely used is because it works. By requiring a voter to show a government-issued form of photo identification, something which at least 98 percent of registered Minnesota voters already have, this measure provides a common-sense approach to strengthening our election integrity.

For those select few who do not already possess a valid ID, the amendment also includes a provision requiring the state to make photo IDs available free of charge.

Those who forget an ID on Election Day would still be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, a simple system already employed by 44 other states, to ensure every voter has the opportunity to vote and still verify their identity soon thereafter.

Other states that have already employed voter ID give us a clear vision of what the future can hold for Minnesota. In many ID requiring states voter turnout, among the general population and within minority communities has increased since the measure passed.

Nationwide, not a single case of voter disenfranchisement has been shown. Costs are far less than opponents project and dramatically drop off after the first cycle.

The rate of provisional ballots cast in other similarly-sized states suggests that there would be less than 1.5 provisional ballots per precinct in Minnesota.

As much as we'd like to believe that everyone in this world maintains a spotless moral compass, we know that there are plenty of people who choose to lie and cheat.

Contrary to this fact of life, opponents expect us to assume that a system that is rife with flaws will not be abused by those seeking to influence the outcome of an election. You decide.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, is a former Secretary of State. She was the chief author on the photo ID constitutional amendment bill. comments powered by Disqus