Amendment costly for taxpayers

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 4, 2012

By Barbara Finley-Shea, Lyle

As Minnesotans ponder the proposed constitutional amendment on photo voter IDs, one issue that’s rarely included in the discussion is the financial cost, paid directly by taxpayers through higher property taxes. The experience of states that rushed to require photo voter IDs is that actual costs far exceeded those anticipated.

The voter ID amendment is an unfunded mandate, for which almost 90 percent of the expense would come from local government. This means the cost of paying for an expensive new voting system would result in higher property taxes.

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In a report from the University of Minnesota with a comprehensive analysis of expenses, the first year costs alone are almost $70 million, of which approximately $63 million would come from local government. Since the entire system would be computerized, replacement expenses would be high and frequent. Local governments would be required to raise the $63 million and then pay for maintenance/replacement of the equipment, pay for the increased number of election judges, cost of the provisional balloting system, electronic poll books and the cost of producing the IDs.

Citizens are already complaining about increased property taxes. If the voter ID amendment passes, they will have much more to complain about.