ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie on Thursday touted an alternative to a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote, saying their idea is less likely to keep some people from voting and cheaper, too.
But their "electronic poll book" voter verification proposal was immediately batted down by a lead Republican on the amendment. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer said the poll books might complement photo ID, but they can't be a substitute.
Kiffmeyer held Ritchie's job before he defeated her in the 2006 election. She has been shepherding the proposed amendment as a workaround to Dayton, who vetoed a bill last year that would have enacted the requirement via state law. Dayton can't block an amendment from going to voters.
Ritchie and Dayton touted bipartisan support for the poll books, which Ritchie said came from a panel of lawmakers from both parties that he assembled to look at election integrity issues.
"It's a better system, a better process," Dayton said. But there were no GOP lawmakers at the pair's news conference.
Under the proposal, poll workers would have access to the state's database of driver's license photos. The database would include photos of most of the roughly 84,000 Minnesotans who don't currently have photo IDs, since it retains the pictures of people who gave up their licenses within the last 12 years.
That would go a long way to protecting voting rights of senior citizens who no longer have photo IDs, Ritchie said.
For people not in the database, poll workers would take photos of each new voter right at the polling places and fasten the photo to a poll book.
Ritchie said he believed it would be less expensive than the likely consequence of the photo ID amendment, that the state or counties would be forced to issue photo IDs to all eligible voters that don't have one. He also said it would avoid the federal supervision of state elections that would likely accompany a photo ID requirement.
Despite the proposal, the amendment is moving quickly through the Legislature. A House committee was reviewing Kiffmeyer's bill on Thursday, and the full state Senate may vote on accompanying legislation as early as next week.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.