Sept. 4, 2012

Report highlights potential costs of the proposed Elections Amendment.
State, local governments and individuals all need to prepare their pocket-books.

Minneapolis, MN—-Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN) and Hamline University professor David Schultz released a new report today on the potential costs of proposed elections amendment, up for consideration by Minnesotan voters this November. The report estimates that if the amendment is adopted state and local governments will need to spend between $36.5 million and $77.6 million to comply with its likely requirements and that individuals who currently lack a government identification will need to spend between $16 million and $72 million to get the documents necessary for the free ID if they wish to vote.

The proposed amendment would mandate the showing of a government-issued ID when voting. According to Kathy Bonnifield, Executive Director of CEIMN, “The amendment could make significant changes to Minnesota’s elections, affecting mail-in voting, absentee voting, and Election Day Registration, and introduce provisional balloting.”

The estimated cost to local governments is between $26.5 million and $63.6 million. Counties with mail-in precincts will be impacted at a greater rate than counties that do not have mail-in precincts. For example, the estimated cost to Renville County, with 9,000 registered voters and no mail-in precincts, is between $46,000 and $150,000 while the cost estimate for Roseau County, with 8,700 registered voters and eight mail-in precincts, is between $200,000 and $300,000.

Additionally, individuals who do not have a government-issued photo ID will incur costs to obtain an ID to vote. According to Schultz, “It will cost between $16 million and $72 million for individuals to get the free photo ID to vote. These are expenses to secure birth certificates or naturalization papers if they individuals do not have them."

However, based on the cost of previous legislation introduced in the 2011 legislation, Bonnifield noted that, “Adoption of the 2012 amendment will entail significant new costs for state and local governments. It would cost the State between $10 million to $14 million in its first four years just to provide voter photo IDs and to educate voters on the new requirement.”

“Many people focus just on the state cost but the local cost of provisional balloting as well as implementing the ‘substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification’ requirement will change mail-in voting and Election Day Registration as we know it. If this passes, local governments need to be prepared to pay for these changes,” stated Kathy Bonnifield Executive Director of CEIMN.

Steven Carbó, State Advocacy Director at Demos, a national authority on the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), added, “The proposed constitutional amendment could drastically change Election Day Registration in Minnesota, such that it would lose its exemption from the National Voter Registration Act and need to make further changes to election administration.”

The report can be found here.