Head election official has faith in system

Voter ID push could require modern voting machines locally

The official who runs Mower County’s elections said he has no doubts in the current voting system, despite a push to require voters to use photo IDs.

“In Mower County, I do not have a concern in the integrity of our elections,” Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh said.

Groh didn’t speak in support or opposition to Minnesota conservatives’ push to require voters to show photo identification at the polls in the state constitution, which voters will settle in the Nov. 6 election.

However, Groh said voter fraud is nearly non-existent locally, and the many election recounts in recent years haven’t revealed any inconsistencies or raised concerns.

“There hasn’t been anything that has come to it, so I feel very comfortable with that process,” he said.

The new voter regulations, according to Groh, will accomplish two main purposes: 1. ensure the strength and integrity of the voting process, and 2. modernize the way people vote.

Still, Groh said the changes that would come with the new voting requirements wouldn’t hurt things.

“It’s always better to be proactive [rather] than reactive,” he said.

Costs

The new voting measures would bring the county’s election process into the 21st century, but they’re also going to cost voters.

To adhere to the new guidelines, the county would have to purchase new, modern voting machines for precincts.

“You’re going to have increased cost to implement the election process,” Groh said.

The new electronic voting machines could cost $56,800 for the cheaper model or $140,900 for a more expensive model — anywhere from about $4.60 to $8.80 per local voter.

Additional implementation costs — like supplies, ballots and election judge fees — could raise the cost of the modern voting machines to about $92,600 on the low end and $176,600 on the high end.

The more expensive machines would connect to Groh’s office and the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office for real-time results. However, Groh said the county would likely opt for the cheaper model, as many township halls don’t have Internet access.

“We have all these townships that don’t have connectivity,” he said.

The numbers are just estimates, as Groh said the costs and many of a voter ID law’s specific requirements haven’t been released.

Voting requirements and workloads

On top of added costs, a change in voting requirements could also change the way some people vote, which would then affect work loads for Groh and his staff.

In 2008, not all of the 2,100 absentee voters were required to go into the auditor-treasurer’s office to vote. Many were able to receive and return ballots in the mail.

Under new ID requirements, Groh speculates the process of mailing a ballot could end, sending many more people to vote in his office.

However, Groh said that will depend on how the legislation is written, should it pass.

During Groh’s time in Mower, only one person has been prosecuted and six others investigated for voter fraud — all had to do with felons voting.

Certain felons are not allowed to vote, and Groh said election judges take measures to prevent that.

“If a felon does vote, it’s a training issue,” he said.

Some people have voiced concerns about illegal immigrants voting, but Groh said he and his election judges have seen no instances of that happening in Mower County.

“They don’t see any evidence of quote-unquote illegal aliens voting,” he said of his election judges.

Another concern is people who file absentee ballots and die before the election. While such cases are rare, Groh said his office has access to the social security database and other databases that should catch the cases.

Groh said voter ID requirements shouldn’t keep many people from voting, even though a rough estimate calls for about 1,000 people who don’t have photo ID in the county.

“Everyone should have some sort of photo ID,” he said, noting it could be a public safety and security issue if someone is unable to prove his or her identity.

It’s not difficult to get a valid photo ID in order to vote, but it’s not exactly free, as some people are saying. In some cases, people may be required to provide a birth certificate, which would cost about $26.

The amendment could cause some delays in voting results. If a voter moves and doesn’t have photo ID finalized, his or her vote could be held as provisional. Groh said this could cause delays in determining the winner of a close election.

Under the current system, people who don’t have photo IDs can supply a utility bill to prove residence or can have a neighbor serve as a voucher.

“The vouching would end under this provision,” he said.

Groh said he has encouraged townships and cities to combine polling places to consolidate and save money.

SportsPlus

News

Biden delivers solemn call to defend democracy as he lays out his reasons for quitting race

News

In fiery speech to Congress, Netanyahu vows ‘total victory’ in Gaza and denounces U.S. protesters

Education

APS announces new cell phone, device rules for upcoming school year

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Minnesota appeals court upholds – in part – original Heggs conviction

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Austin teen injured in Tuesday night crash

Mower County

Gertrude Ellis travels the subject of next Lunchbox History event

Mower County

Parks and Rec shows off process for treating EAB

News

I-90 off-ramps closed to Highway 52 southbound through November southeast of Rochester

News

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz doesn’t rule out VP role as presidential nomination race is reset

Brownsdale

In Your Community: Brownsdale Study Club

Education

Education: Graduates

News

Trump to appear in Minnesota alongside his new vice presidential candidate this weekend in St. Cloud

News

Biden will address the nation Wednesday on his decision to drop his 2024 Democratic reelection bid

News

Harris tells roaring Wisconsin crowd November election is ‘a choice between freedom and chaos’

Education

APS approves student handbook, will continue celebration conversation

News

New, returning transit options for the 2024 Minnesota State Fair

News

Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, last of the original Four Tops, dies at 88

News

Harris visits battleground Wisconsin in first rally as Democrats coalesce around her for president

Mower County

Man from early July standoff in court Monday, psych evaluation requested

Mower County

I-90 overnight detours scheduled July 24-25 for Oakland Avenue bridge beam setting in Austin

News

Harris praises Biden’s ‘unmatched’ legacy, looks to lock up the Democratic nomination

Education

APS, Palmer Bus Service roll out parent/guardian app

News

Biden drops out of 2024 race after disastrous debate inflamed age concerns and he endorses Harris

Mower County

Agriculture & Food Science Exploration Day a success