Myths vs. Facts

There is an astonishing amount of misinformation being spread by opponents of the Minnesota Voter ID Amendment. Mostly, the false statements are nothing more than talking points developed by national organizations who don’t even understand Minnesota’s unique voting laws, or the constitutional amendment that’s been designed to strengthen them. They’re simply the same talking points these groups have used in every other state where there’s been a debate on Voter ID.

We’ve developed this helpful reference to help debunk some of the most common false claims made by Voter ID opponents. You can also print a version of our "Voter ID Myths vs. Facts Flyer" for distribution in your area.

MYTH: 700,000 Minnesotans will be unable to vote if Voter ID is passed.

Fact: This notion is based on figures produced by the secretary of state. 500,000 of the figure represents roughly the number of voters who used Election Day registration in 2008. Since the Voter ID Amendment doesn’t do away with Election Day registration, that number is simply irrelevant.

The other 200,000 are people the secretary of state’s office says lack current photo ID.

There are big problems with this figure. The secretary of state’s statistics jumble together voters who either don’t have a Minnesota driver’s license or state ID card with voters whose address on their ID doesn’t match their voter registration.

The Voter ID amendment simply requires a government-issued identification for voting — this could include a Minnesota driver’s license, state ID, a passport, a military ID, a tribal ID or even an out-of-state driver’s license. The amendment does not require an ID with the individual’s current address; it is only used to verify identity. The Voter ID amendment is silent on residence verification, leaving that to existing statutes. A voter may verify identity with photo ID, and if the address on the ID is not current, statutes allow verification of residence in the precinct with a utility bill, among other options. All of this means the actual number of individuals who would require a new identification card for voting would be a fraction of the number Ritchie claims.

Some portion of those who actually do lack ID are likely not eligible to vote (according to census data there are approximately 200,000 non-citizens residing in Minnesota, for example), and for the rest, lacking ID isn’t the same as lacking tonsils or an appendix. It’s not permanent. Voters will always be able to obtain a free state-issued photo ID at any time.

MYTH: Voters (like students) who move frequently will be disenfranchised by Voter ID.

Fact: The Voter ID amendment makes no mention of address. It requires confirmation of identity and eligibility to vote (citizenship, not a felon, etc). It does not require a current address on the voter’s ID. Someone who’s recently moved and doesn’t have a current address on their photo ID will still be able to vote, proving their residence under the current statutes.

In addition, the renewal slip provided when applying for replacement ID accompanied your expired or cancelled previous ID card is considered valid ID under Minnesota laws. That renewal slip can be obtained immediately, on Election Day if needed.

Voters who run into difficulty and who need more time to obtain a renewal slip or new license, state ID or voter ID card would be provided a provisional ballot, allowing them a full additional week to certify their ballot and have it counted.

Keep in mind the voter ID Amendment requires the state to issue photo ID at no charge.

MYTH: Minnesota has the best election system in the country.

Fact: Minnesota’s election system, which combines Election Day registration with vouching, is among the least secure election systems in the country. We’re one of only two states that allow this, and one of only 6 who don’t employ provisional ballots.

It may be the best election system for proponents of loose elections and voter fraud, but it is not the best for those who are concerned with fair and secure elections that are free of corruption.

With nearly 200 recent voter fraud convictions, Minnesota is now leading the nation in convictions for voter fraud. Not a very noble distinction. Worse, it wasn’t our election system that caught the fraud, but an outside non-profit organization.

MYTH: There is no voter fraud.

Fact: Minnesota now leads the nation in convictions for voter fraud with 200 recent convictions of ineligible voters. Minnesota’s Statewide Voter Registration System contains thousands of challenged entries due to undeliverable official election mail called postal verification cards. Over 6,000 Election Day registrants provided names or addresses that could not be verified after their ballots were accepted and counted in the 2008 election. An NAACP executive was recently convicted on 10 counts of voter fraud in Mississippi. In Troy, New York, a conspiracy to commit voter fraud by voting in other people’s names was uncovered that involved city council members and other election officials. Several have pled guilty.

The instances of voter fraud that have been caught and prosecuted go on and on, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most voter fraud is nearly impossible to detect and prosecute because we can’t identify the actual voters with out photo ID. Learn more about election integrity issues and voter fraud here.

MYTH: Voting is a right, so we can’t require ID.

Fact: Voting is a right, but it’s a qualified right. In Minnesota, a voter must be a resident of the state, a citizen, at least 18 years of age and must live in the precinct. A voter can’t be a convicted felon whose rights have not yet been restored and can’t be under a guardianship in which the right to vote has been revoked by the court. In addition, each eligible voter is entitled to only one ballot in an election. The Voter ID system proposed for Minnesota simply verifies that a voter meets the constitutional qualifications for voting.

The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, yet photo ID is required to purchase a handgun.

MYTH: Voter ID constitutes a “poll tax”

Fact: Every state that has a photo ID requirement to vote also makes suitable ID available to voters at no charge. Minnesota’s Voter ID proposal is no exception.

The US Supreme Court long ago deemed poll taxes unconstitutional, but upheld Indiana’s requirement for voters to present photo ID (Crawford v. Marion County). Therefore, Voter ID cannot be a "poll tax." How is the government providing something to you at no charge a tax?

MYTH: Certain groups of voters will be disenfranchised.

Fact: When the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and Common Cause sued the state of Georgia to stop a new Voter ID law based on claims of disenfranchisement, the judge upheld the law. In his ruling, he said that the League’s failure, despite their efforts, to uncover anyone “‘who can attest to the fact that he/she will be prevented from voting’ provides significant support for the conclusion that the Photo ID requirement does not unduly burden the right to vote.”

A similar Voter ID law enacted in Indiana was upheld by the United States Supreme Court despite the same unfounded protests of the League of Women Voters and their allies.

While it’s true that some eligible voters currently lack valid photo ID, there’s nothing stopping them from obtaining one. The state will provide one at no charge.

MYTH: It will be impossible for some people to obtain an ID.

Fact: The Voter ID amendment provides a free ID to anyone who cannot afford one. Sometimes an individual may lack certain documentation such as a birth certificate or marriage license normally required to obtain a state-issued identification. In other cases, a person may have religious objections to being photographed for a state-issued identification. Minnesota already has a variance process for obtaining state-issued identification in situations such as the lack of documentation or religious objections. The fact is no one who needs an ID will be denied an opportunity to obtain one.

MYTH: People in temporary shelters will have difficulty voting.

Fact: The Voter ID bill passed in 2011 was very well thought out and after dozens of hours of public testimony was finalized in a way that addresses every conceivable unusual voting situation, including residence in temporary shelters. Under the plan, shelter administrators could provide residents a special document sufficient to establish their residence in the shelter. The enacting statutes for the voter ID amendment can be expected to address these same concerns.

MYTH: Voter ID will reduce voter turnout.

Fact: Voter turnout has increased in every state which has adopted a Voter ID requirement. Increasing public confidence in the election system leads to increased participation.

MYTH: Voter ID will only prevent “voter impersonation,” but not other forms of fraud.

Fact: Eligibility verification is tied to voter ID. Under the 21st Century Voter ID proposal, non-citizens, ineligible felons and ineligible wards would be detected and prevented from voting when they scanned their ID into a terminal pre-loaded with voter status information from a central database. Likewise, the Voter ID amendment requires all voters be subject to "substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification" before their ballots are cast or counted.

“Voter impersonation,” is a misleading misnomer. With Minnesota’s combination of unverifiable Election Day registration and vouching, identities can be invented out of thin air. That’s not impersonation, it’s creating a false identity, which is also prevented by Voter ID.

MYTH: Voter ID is too expensive and will raise my property taxes

Fact: This is a complete fabrication. Local governments aren’t expected or required to bear any of the costs associated with the Voter ID Amendment. It clearly says that the state must provide identification at no charge. Those costs will come from the state general fund budget and will not affect property taxes in any way.

Recent outrageous claims of huge costs associated with provisional ballots cynically prey on ignorance of how provisional ballots work in the 44 other states that employ them. Indiana, which has a stringent photo ID requirement, uses provisional ballots and had a similar voting population to Minnesota had a total of less than 4,000 provisional ballots cast statewide in 2008. Minnesota has just over 4,000 voting precincts.

Voter ID opponents claim that it will require 2 new election judges per precinct just to handle provisional ballots. What they want people to believe is that it will somehow require two election judges each working a 14 hour shift to take care of an average of less than one provisional ballot in each precinct.

MYTH: Members of the armed forces serving overseas will be unable to vote if the Voter ID amendment is ratified

Fact: Not true and not even possible. Even if the Voter ID amendment attempted to prevent military absentee ballots (which it most certainly does not), military voting is governed by overriding federal laws. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act would supersede any state statutes or constitutional provisions. Our deployed soldiers will be able to vote in Minnesota as they always have. Even if for some unfathomable reason the state legislature desired to prevent military voting, it’s not legally possible.

Soldiers who wish to vote with a Minnesota Absentee ballot to their home precinct will likewise be unhindered by the Voter ID amendment. They, like every other absentee voter will simply have to provide their ID number on the signature envelope and possibly show their ID to their witness. They will be able to use their military ID, state-issued ID, drivers license or any of the other valid government-issued photo IDs allowed under the amendment.

MYTH: Tribal IDs will no longer be accepted as ID for voting under the Voter ID Amendment

Fact: This is a new lie that’s just cropped up from the Voter ID opposition. The 21st Century Voter ID bill from 2011 specifically included tribal IDs as acceptable for voting. Even if the next legislature doesn’t adopt the same language, a federal court has already mandated the acceptance of tribal IDs for voting. The Voter ID Amendment cannot affect the use of tribal IDs for voting. It’s legally impossible.