By Mary Kiffmeyer
State Representative (R-Big Lake) and former Secretary of State
With the November 6th elections coming up, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other opponents have been traveling the state spreading hyper-partisan rumors about mail-in voting in regards to the pending photo ID requirement.
The honest truth of the matter is that for the college students, nursing home residents, military members, and others who rely on absentee or mail voting, that option will look nearly identical to the current absentee ballot. We already have a substantially equivalent eligibility process in place for absentee ballots (a process which was bi-partisanly improved after the Franken-Coleman election).
The current Minnesota absentee ballot (which can be viewed on the Secretary of State’s website) already asks for a form of eligibility verification through a drivers license number or social security number.
Ritchie has desperately and falsely tried to scare voters in rural Minnesota into believing that mail voting, absentee voting and same day registration would be in jeopardy if the Photo ID Amendment passes.
*I say desperately because polls show overwhelming support for photo ID across the political spectrum in Minnesota.
*I say falsely because mail balloting, absentee voting and same day registration in Minnesota will most certainly remain intact if voters approve the amendment this November. There is not one word in the amendment to eliminate these methods of voting. In fact, they will be faster and more reliable with a photo ID!
It is bad enough when politicians use falsehoods and scare tactics to distract and mislead the public. But when the issue is election integrity, and the politician is the top election official in the state, it has to stop.
In the amendment, we simply require that voter eligibility must be substantially equivalent for all voters – and rightfully so. Many are disturbed to learn that this is not currently the case, most notably when voters use vouching without any identification at all.
Secretary Ritchie is ignoring the word “substantially” and argues that eligibility verification cannot be accomplished on election day in the polling place. He claims that all 500,000 same-day registrants in Minnesota would therefore have to cast a provisional ballot to be counted later.
This is nonsense.
Much of the verification will be satisfied by the voter’s photo ID. Additional eligibility checks are all possible. For example: felon, guardian and incompetence exception lists can be provided along with the poll books for election day. One of the checks is the death registry – I’m pretty sure a valid voter at the polls will pass that one!
This system, frankly, should be common sense. If Secretary Ritchie is not already performing these checks today, what does that say about the current checks (or lack of) on same day registrations?
In his official capacity as the state’s top election official, a fair discussion of Secretary Ritchie’s position on the issue is fine, but he needs to recant his recent inflammatory statements:
Ritchie claims that photo ID would “replace” same day registration with provisional ballots. Nothing in the law would require this preposterous conclusion.
He wrote that voters who forget their wallets on election day would be “denied their right to vote” or “not allowed to cast your ballot.” False. That is exactly why the amendment provides for provisional ballots for those that forget to bring an ID.
His office claims that almost one million voters would have problems voting. This defies logic. Ninety-eight percent of registered voters in Minnesota currently have a driver’s license. And those who don’t will be provided one, free of charge.
Ritchie claims that election results would not be available for days or weeks after the election because of photo ID. Pure scare tactics. This has not happened in any of the 16 states that already require photo ID.
He’s said that members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas would be unable to vote if the Voter ID amendment passes. AS the chief election officer of the state, Ritchie should be familiar with the MOVE Act and UOCAVA ballots under federal law and thus should be fully aware that military absentee ballots are not affected by state laws. Not even an amendment to the State Constitution can hinder military balloting.