Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Voter ID alternative gets hearing

Published (3/2/2012)
By Nick Busse
Share on: 

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie holds up a poll book during a Feb. 28 demonstration for the House State Government Finance Committee. Supporters say electronic poll books would allow for visual voter verification and simplify the check-in process during elections. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)A plan to institute a photo ID requirement for voters remains controversial among lawmakers, but members of a House committee got their first glimpse at a possible bipartisan alternative Feb. 28.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie appeared before the House State Government Finance Committee to demonstrate the use of electronic poll books. The technology consists of laptop computers containing updated voter registration data and photos provided by Driver and Vehicle Services. Proponents say providing electronic poll books for polling places would allow for the verification of voters’ identities without subjecting them to a photo ID requirement.

“It allows us to accomplish the very important task of bringing visual verification of voters into the polling place,” Ritchie said. He added, “It’s something that can be done very easily and relatively quickly.”

Supporters say electronic poll books represent a less burdensome alternative to the photo ID law proposed by Republican lawmakers. Instead of requiring all voters to obtain a government-issued photo ID card with a current address on it, the electronic poll books would simply utilize the state’s current voter registration system, but with the added benefit of being able to identify voters visually.

Some doubt the value of such a system, however. Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina) asked what the point is of making photos available at the polling places if there’s no photo ID requirement for voters.

“Under the premise of a photo ID requirement, I think this makes great sense. Absent photo ID, I can’t imagine we’d be sticking people’s photos on poll books,” he said.

The committee took no action. There are currently no bills moving through the House that would implement electronic poll books. Rep. Mike Benson (R-Rochester) said there is “still a lot of work to be done” on how best to roll out such a system.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Voters to decide on photo ID
Fate of constitutional question now rests in the people’s hands
(view full story) Published 4/6/2012

Proving who you say you are
House votes to approve ballot question on photo ID for voters
(view full story) Published 3/23/2012

Where the people are
Population growth varies across state but has big redistricting impact
(view full story) Published 5/6/2011

Drawing the lines
Redistricting plan is far from bipartisan acceptance
(view full story) Published 5/6/2011

First Reading: Identification, please?
Lawmakers weigh photo ID requirement for voters
(view full story) Published 2/11/2011

At Issue: A push here, a bubble there
State redistricting is a balancing act that’s not often easy
(view full story) Published 1/21/2011