Item by item look at voter ID issues

Here are some issues related to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Minnesota voters to produce photographic identification before casting ballots:

Process: The Minnesota Constitution is amended when the Legislature passes a proposed amendment and a majority of voters in a general election approve it. The governor has no official role. The proposed amendment will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Politics: In general, Republicans support the amendment and Democrats oppose it. The GOP-controlled Legislature passed a photo ID bill in 2011, but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it. That bill would have made a new law; the one on the Nov. 6 ballot would change the state Constitution.

Reasoning: Amendment supporters say they want to make sure only eligible voters cast ballots. Opponents claim Minnesota has the country’s cleanest elections and there is no need for change.

Impact: Democrats who oppose the amendment say the proposal is a Republican effort to disenfranchise minority, the elderly and other voters who are less likely to have photo IDs and are less inclined to go through procedures needed to get one. Most of those groups lean Democratic. Republicans say the amendment would not affect one group more than another.

Cost: Proponents and opponents vary greatly on what it would cost to implement the amendment. Supporters say the cost would be very low, mostly to provide free ID cards to the few Minnesotans who do not have one. But local elections officials and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie claim the cost could be much higher, with some estimates topping $100 million. Laws legislators pass to implement the amendment would determine the final cost.

Fraud: Minnesota Majority, a group pushing the amendment, says it has found more than 200 felons who voted in violation of state law. Amendment opponents respond that even felons have photo IDs and the amendment would not stop them from voting. Few other voter fraud cases have been prosecuted.

Provisional ballots: The amendment would allow voters who could not produce a photo ID at the polling place to mark a ballot, but the ballot would not be counted until the voter shows an ID to local elections officials. Opponents say that many people would need to drive long distances to show their IDs and some could not do that.

Absentee ballots: There is a disagreement about how absentee voting would work. Proponents say that laws implementing the amendment would allow mailed absentee ballots, perhaps with copies of a photo ID accompanying the ballot. Opponents say the amendment requires “substantially equivalent” treatment of absentee and in-person voters, which is not possible.

Mail voting: Arguments about mail-in ballots used in some rural areas fall along the same lines as absentee voting, with opponents saying the amendment would end mail voting.

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