A Deep Look Behind The Voter ID Amendment: Provisional Voting Laws

Minnesota Voter ID Amendment goes beyond the problems with having a "certain" Id.

There is more to Voter ID laws then just enforcing a certain type of Identification. There are definite challenges to that “required” ID enforcement, but that isn’t where Voter ID stops in challenges. Provisional voting laws already enacted in other states along with Voter ID, reveal massive problems of disenfranchising even more eligible citizen’s vote.

Drilling Down: It is important to look closely behind those laws that have been enacted in other states under Voter ID, as well as the actual statistics. Ohio, a well-known state during election time, shows historically how many people cast a provisional ballot and under what circumstance. Ohio has had large numbers of provisional votes not counted, even though these voters had proper ID, and were registered to vote. Confusion, poll worker misdirection were part of those reasons. A precinct or poll worker does not have to tell the voter where the voter is registered. In turn, the voter either walks away, or uses a provisional ballot. Ohio’s 2008 election statistics shows over 14,000 provisional ballots rejected for being cast in the wrong precinct alone. 

Fighting Restrictive Laws: A Federal Ohio Judge recently ruled to extend provisional ballot counts. This has been a long effort by voting advocates, and it shows how hard of a fight it has been. Ohio voter fight isn’t over yet. The State of Ohio/Husted just filed an emergency motion to stay injunction pending appeal. Sound confusing? Ohio is not the only state that applied these laws.

HAVA: It’s important to understand provisional voting laws. The Help America Vote Act, (HAVA) is a federal law, which focuses on the goal of making sure there is the option of a provisional ballot for varied reasons, but it allows each state to decide what and how those provisional ballots are counted. Congress passed HAVA in 2002 as an attempt to address the thousands of people turned away during the Florida 2000 election

Voter Registration Fraud: Recently reported stories have spread throughout the US regarding voter registration fraud, and there is a historical reference as well. Nathan Sproul’s organization, Strategic Allied Consulting, is one example of having workers reregister voters by changing their addresses, or changed registration information that would cause a problem at the voting polls. Florida’s election board found plenty of fraudulent voter registrations last month submitted by this organization, and it didn’t stop at Florida.

Allegations and proof of completed registration forms being “dumped” also disenfranchises voters as well in other states. In most states that have Voter ID, if you are not registered to vote, or have incorrect registration information you can fill out a provisional ballot, but it often means that those provisional ballots will not count in most cases.

In 2004, Minnesota had instances of people working for Nathan’s Sproul’s organization that were reportedly threatened to be fired for submitting Democratic voter registrations, while other workers were paid a bonus for every Republican or Independent voter registration form. In Florida voter registration forms requires party affiliation information. States like Minnesota do not require that information, but that doesn’t stop workers from finding out what party or candidate voters are supporting. Reports, including videos, of registration drive workers conducting a fake “poll” about what party or candidate they support, before having them fill out a registration form.

Current Minnesota Voting Laws: Minnesota is currently exempt from having provisional ballots because of  “Same Day Registration” in person at the polls.  If you moved recently before Election Day, but after the chance to register, you still have an opportunity to register and cast your vote. If your ID had been stolen or lost, or perhaps someone had thrown away or changed your voter registration, you still have an opportunity register and to cast a real ballot. You still have to provide certain information to prove who you are or where you live, but Minnesota’s existing registration laws make it reasonably possible. If the Voter ID amendment passes, Minnesota’s Same Day Registration will end as we know it.

The Voter ID Amendment language does not address what provisional voting laws will be enacted, but if this law happens to pass on the ballot this year, there are many examples to show how it will have a negative impact on your vote. Voter ID Amendment isn’t just about having a “certain” ID, or that you are registered to vote, it can go grossly beyond that. The examples I have presented are just the very tip of a very large mountain of the problems Voter ID laws have promoted.




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Mandy Meisner November 01, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Thanks for bringing to light all the complications around this (I didn't know). Honestly, I'm still a little confused, but this helps. My understanding is, that while voter fraud does happen, statistically it is insignificant. So insignificant, it's not even close to a problem. I find it interesting that the party who claims to be most fiscally "responsible" would want to implement a complicated and expensive new program-- to address a problem we don't have. Personally, I'm voting NO to the Voter ID Amendment.
Amy Paddock November 02, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Thank you. There was quite a lot of information to see. I agree.


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