Lies, damn lies and Voter ID

Among all the wild-eyed charges thrown about by Voter ID proponents, one stood out last week. That was the charge made by Ramsey County Commissioner candidate Sue Jeffers in a KFAI interview (about the 13-minute mark.)

“Out of Mark Ritchie’s own deputy commissioner’s mouth, I heard him say in 2008, there were 25,000 more ballots than registered voters. 25,000 more ballots than registered voters. How does that happen? In 2010, Mark Ritchie said there were more. They’re primarily in Minneapolis, they’re primarily in St. Paul.”


I figured Jeffers was pretty far off the mark. To my disappointment, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie wouldn’t even dignify this charge with a reply. So I talked to Rachel Smith, the Hennepin County Elections Manager and confirmed, as I suspected, that having more ballots than registered voters is just plain impossible.

I have no clue what Sue Jeffers was talking about, or thinks she was talking about. She said she was an election judge for eight years, so she should know how the system works. And the way the system works is that no one gets a ballot unless they are registered — so there cannot be more ballots than registered voters.

Smith explained:

“In Minnesota we have a list of registered voters – all the people who registered to vote up to 20 days before the election. … Then we have everyone who does election day registration. We are one of a handful of states that do election day registration. Election day registration is sort of like adding on to the preregistered list.  … In order to vote, you need to be either on the preregistered list or [registered] through election day registration.”

I asked if there was any way that there could be more ballots than registered voters. Smith couldn’t see any way that could happen. She described the post-election process:

“After election day, the returns come in. We will scan all the signature lines from the preregistered rosters. We hand-enter all the election-day registration cards. All go into statewide database. Each voter record indicates whether they voted absentee, or preregistered or did election day registration.

“We have procedures in our state law to account for every person that votes on election day and every ballot that is cast.”

I thought hard about whether to write this column. By this point in the campaign, it’s hard to keep up with all of the lies and misinformation being thrown around. Does it even make sense to try to respond to one more? In the end, though, I decided that even one more truth thrown into the mix might help.

Whether you support or oppose Voter ID — or the Marriage Amendment — or any particular candidate — truthful arguments should be the minimum standard for participation in the political debate. And if you don’t know truth from fiction, maybe you should just shut up.

1 Comment

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One response to “Lies, damn lies and Voter ID

  1. Rich Broderick

    As with opposition in St. Paul to ranked choice voting, I think the standard of truth for proponents of the Voter-ID Amendment seems to be “whatever advances the cause.”


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