We're talking about doing a roundup of editorials from other Minnesota newspapers on the two proposed constitutional amendments. Here's an early indicator...news release from Our Vote, Our Future, the anti-amendment group, so with that caveat:
St. Paul, MN –ECM Newspapers, a statewide chain of more than 20 papers in suburban, exurban and Greater Minnesota, has declared in an editorial its opposition to the Voter Restriction amendment. With this editorial, ECM Newspapers joins a rapidly growing list of Greater Minnesota papers — including the Mankato Free Press, Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Marshall Independent and McLeod County Chronicle — in recently opposing the Voter Restriction amendment.
The ECM editorial board writes:
“This country is stronger when virtually every adult is empowered with their constitutional right to vote. Few restrictions should limit this right, and a change in those limits should only be made when it’s been demonstrated that the rights of the majority are in danger.”
ECM continues that proponents of the Voter Restriction amendment have not provided “conclusive proof that the constitution should be amended… In the final analysis, the empowerment of every citizen to cast a ballot outweighs the prevention of perceived but unproven voter fraud.”
Among other reasons for its opposition to the Voter Restriction amendment, the ECM editorial board cited the costs of the amendment — “County officials are concerned that passage of the voter ID amendment alone would cost local, county and state governments millions of extra dollars” — as well as the complications that the amendment would pose:
“Minnesota consistently is a leader in voter turnout, in part because it has same-day voter registration that would be eliminated in favor of provisional voting, which some experts believe could reduce the number of voters, drive up the cost of elections and delay the outcome.”
Mankato Free Press
On October 4, the Mankato Free Press editorialized against the Voter Restriction amendment, writing that “Minnesota would create an extreme voting restriction for seniors, lock in outdated technology and cause higher local taxes for everyone if the Voter ID Amendment passes.” The Free Press highlighted the complications for senior citizens, people in nursing homes and others posed by provisional voting,
“… which would require them to within a undefined period of time after the election not only hunt down their birth certificate and for women, their marriage license also, but then go back to essentially vote again. So we’ve made one trip to go vote into three of four trips. That’s likely to discourage voting altogether.”
The Free Press concluded:
“It’s important to remember that a vote against the Voter ID amendment is not a vote against better verification procedures. Those changes can be handled in bipartisan election legislation. That’s the way Minnesota should go in resolving voting verification improvements. We shouldn’t restrict rights of something that is essential to American Democracy.”
Fergus Falls Daily Journal
In an editorial entitled “Cost of voter ID program is too steep,” the Fergus Falls Daily Journal wrote on October 1 against “the costs of implementing [the Voter Restriction amendment] and the potential disenfranchisement of voters that may come with it.
“… Voter ID will most certainly create more work — and thus more taxpayer dollars — for government. For example, townships that currently do mail-in balloting may have to revert to regular balloting, potentially costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The editorial finishes with, “… if our election system ain’t broke, then it doesn’t seem necessary to fix it.”
In a September 6 editorial headlined “Let’s fix problems that DO exist,” the Marshall Independent called the Voter Restriction amendment “a solution without a problem… Why are we even bothering with this? Everyone strives for open, fair and honest elections; we already have them in Minnesota.”
The paper expressed particular concern about the consequences for large swathes of eligible voters of amendment’s inflexibility:
“Maybe, just maybe, if prospective voters would be allowed to use alternative IDs (military or student IDs, for example) we would be more receptive to the amendment. But that's not going to happen.”
McLeod County Chronicle
The McLeod County Chronicle of Glencoe headlined its September 5 editorial, “Vote ‘No’ until all our questions are answered on Voter ID amendment.” Editor Rich Glennie points out that while the amendment “seems to be straight forward, it is anything but. There are a lot of details that need to be worked out,” including:
“So, if approved, how will the voter ID provision be implemented and how much more will it cost taxpayers to fund the changes? And what constitutes a government-issued photo ID? Is it a valid driver’s license, a corporate badge, a student ID card, or will entirely new photo IDs be issued to all of us?”
The editorial concluded:
“… [V]oters are being asked to change the state Constitution without all the details being spread before them. Voters are being asked to “trust” that our leaders will get the right details in place by July 1. Would you buy a car without seeing it first? Or a house without ever stepping foot into it? So why should we approve a voter ID amendment when we do not know all the details or costs?”
Greater Minnesota editorials about costs, complications and consequences of Voter Restriction
In other editorials in recent weeks, the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Faribault Daily News have written about the complications and costs of the Voter Restriction amendment.
On September 26, the Detroit Lakes Tribune praised U.S. Representative Collin Peterson, “who is going to bat for rural residents in his sprawling district over the future of mail-in ballots.” The paper wrote that Peterson “and a host of Kittson and Marshall county officials … express[ed] concerns over the future of mail-in balloting and the costs to rural counties if a constitutional amendment restricting voting passes this November. The Tribune pointed out more than 90 percent of precincts in Kittson County and Marshall County use mail-in balloting.
“Due to specific language contained in the constitutional amendment requiring ‘substantially-equivalent identity and eligibility verification,’ the current process of mail-in balloting would have to change because voters don’t vote in person, where they could actually show photo identification.”
In an August 27 editorial (reprinted on August 30 in the Albert Lea Tribune), the Faribault Daily News wrote of its desire to “emphasize something voters might not have fully taken into consideration yet: There’s no free lunch. If it passes, voter ID will cost money.” The Daily News wrote that according to County Auditor Fran Windschitl, the cost to Rice County alone would be $120,000.
“The election costs associated with voter ID would essentially become another unfunded — or at least underfunded — mandate, the bane of local governments’ existence and a reason why many local governments are facing such tight budgets… Taxpayers will, one way or another, ultimately bear the cost.”