Voter ID advocates, opponents face off in Maplewood forum - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Voter ID advocates, opponents face off in Maplewood forum

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MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (KMSP) -

Soon, Minnesotans will decide whether they want to require photo identification at the polls in the future, but on Tuesday it was clear that there is no clear consensus as opponents and advocates debated.

The question of whether or not to amend the state's constitution to include a voter ID requirement is a close one in the polls. The latest data shows that 51 percent of voters approve of the plan, but 43 percent are opposed -- and the numbers are only getting closer.

On Tuesday night, leaders on both sides of the issue went head-to-head in an energetic forum.

"How do you know? If you are an election judge and someone is standing in front of you and doesn't have an ID, how do you know they are who they say they are?" Republican Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer asked.

The debate pitted Kiffmeyer, former secretary of state, against former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson.

The current wording of the amendment calls for all voters to present a valid state ID at the ballot box in order to vote. Those who do not have one will get a free form of identification from the state.

Those who support the amendment say such measures are needed to protect election integrity and root out voter fraud, but those opposed say the system is working smoothly as is and the amendment would only disenfranchise some of Minnesota's most vulnerable voters.

"This constitutional amendment is complicated. It is a radical overhaul," said Carolyn Jackson, of the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union. "The best thing you can do is send it back to the Legislature with a 'no' vote in November."

Opponents also argue that the cost of providing free ID cards would be too high to implement.

"I think we are entitled to see their budget," Carlson argued. "They are the ones who proposed it, they drove it through two Legislative houses without ever presenting a budget -- not even requiring a fiscal note."

Yet, opponents, like Dan McGrath, founder of Minnesota Majority, insist that local governments won't incur any costs.

"Where does it say they have to spend the money?" he asked, but he did not elaborate on how the state's ID cards would be distributed to those currently without.

It is as yet unclear how many Minnesota voters may have been swayed by the Maplewood forum, which was broadcast on local government cable access; however, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted to oppose the measure on Tuesday on the grounds that it would cost them too much money.

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