Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday declared their support for a legislative push to require Minnesotans to show photo identification before voting.
Board members voted unanimously to support requiring an ID to cast a ballot on the same day a bill authored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, that would require voters to have photo identification to vote and would do away with the practice of vouching to prove residency on Election Day passed a Minnesota House committee.
Debate over the bill is expected to be contentious and Gov. Mark Dayton has indicated he doesn't favor the proposal.
Commissioner Dennis Hegberg proposed the resolution to support the photo identification requirement.
"In this world we live in today, I think it would only be appropriate," said Hegberg, who represents Forest Lake.
Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek, whose district includes a portion of Woodbury, called the measure "a no-brainer." Minnesotans are forced to produce identification for a litany of daily tasks, he said.
"You need a photo I.D. to get in the Woodbury Food Shelf, for God's sake," Pulkrabek said. "But you don't have to have an ID to vote? Come on."
Kevin Corbid, the county's elections director, side-stepped taking a position on the proposal before the board Tuesday, telling commissioners "that's a policy decision." But he did say Kiffmeyer's bill could raise some problems for county election officials.
Polling places would have to deal with provisional balloting, where voters unable to produce a government-issued photo ID with their current address could fill out a special ballot that would not be counted initially. Within five days, Corbid said, the voter could produce valid photo identification to county officials to have their ballot counted.
Corbid said that could slow results and alter vote totals up to a week after Election Day.
New photo ID requirements could be onerous for election officials, warned commissioner Gary Kriesel. Though he supported the resolution, Kriesel said should the bill become law it could represent another unfunded mandate from the state.
"Fundamentally, I agree," Kriesel said. "But be careful what you wish for."