George Beck testimony against SF 173

Voter ID and Provisional balloting – SF 173 – Testimony to Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee on Jan. 27, 2021.

Madam Chair, members, my name is George Beck. I am a retired administrative law judge, a former chair of the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board and I am presently Chair of Clean Elections Minnesota, a non-partisan, non-profit, concerned with election and campaign finance issues.

My comments are directed towards the voter ID and provisional balloting provisions in this bill, that would reverse Minnesota policy that encourages all to vote.

It is well established among election officials that there is no significant voter fraud in Minnesota and therefore there is no justification for requiring voter ID, that will be unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers.

Of course, the voters of this state defeated a constitutional amendment that would have required a picture ID to vote. Legislators supporting this legislation are not representing their constituents, but rather their political party.

The bill also creates a provisional balloting option but would require the voter to appear before the county auditor within 7 days of casting the ballot. Any voters who were not discouraged by a provisional ballot requirement would likely be discouraged from proceeding further by taking more time off to visit the county auditor and having to prove to that official his or her right to vote. It is an unnecessary hurdle sure to limit voting.

The original purpose of the provisional balloting requirement in federal law was to enable challenged voters to vote. It was an effort to expand the number of voters.

Minnesota was exempted from this requirement because we had same day registration for voting. In other words, Congress said that where same day registration was present, provisional balloting was unnecessary.

Forty-six states provided for provisional balloting not because they thought it was the best policy, but because the federal government required it.

This bill hampers the nationally praised, and copied, same day registration provisions of Minnesota law by requiring election day registrants to use a provisional ballot.

The changes in this bill would be at the expense of disenfranchising eligible voters and disproportionately affecting communities of color. It is voter suppression, pure and simple, contrary to the goal of the federal legislation.

Please vote with your constituents against these provisions.

Thank you.

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