Voter ID would require more election judges, additional training and new equipment that would result in hundreds of thousands in new election costs for Hennepin County and cities within its boundaries, according to county estimates.
The costliest piece for the county would be provisional ballots for those who do not have photo identification on election day. Costs would include special equipment, additional staff time to process the votes and reminder notices for those who used provisional ballots, which would be counted only if the voter later supplied proof of identity.
“This means that after a very long election cycle we’re going to be remaining in this intense world for a little bit longer,” said Rachel Smith, the county’s election manager. “These ballots would almost certainly be the first item of contention if we saw a result like we did in 2008 or 2010.”
A survey the county filled out estimated that provisional ballots would have cost Hennepin $193,150 for the 2008 election plus $44,625 in startup costs.
Voter ID would also require one more election judge per precinct—or 425 countywide—to help voters fill out provisional ballots, Smith said.
Head judges will require an extra four to six hours of training, while the remaining judges will have about two more hours of training. The training time would also tax city clerks, who would have to spend time preparing for the training and conducting it.
In all, the extra judges and training would cost about $50,000 to $60,000 countywide, with individual cities paying for the bulk of that, Smith said.
Hennepin County estimates there would be $288,000 in costs from traveling to nursing homes and other health care facilities—a task the county would likely delegate to individual cities.
The county also expects additional expenses from processing applications and producing the IDs, including overtime from an anticipated rush to get IDs in the weeks before the election. That would have cost about $66,792 in the 2008 election, according to the survey.
In all, the county estimates the 2008 election would have cost Hennepin County and its cities close to $550,000 more if voter ID were required.
Elections officials likely won’t have a whole lot of time to put the measures into effect either. The proposal is up for voter approval in November. If approved, the Legislature will need to approve a law specifying the details of how it will work.
That could take until May 2013, which would give officials one to two months to prepare.
In the meantime, local governments are still facing unknowns that could create further costs. There’s been a proposal to have the county election office provide the free photo IDs that will be available to those who don’t have one, Smith said.
Someone also will need to provide public education about the new rule if it passes. If the state doesn’t do that, the responsibility could fall on local governments.
“If (the state) is going to put something like this in place, what are they willing to do?” Smith asked.
Estimated added Voter ID costs for previous electionsStart-up costs 2008 2009 2010 No. of voters --- 754,844 38,789 605,724 Processing applications, producing IDs $50,000 $66,792 $3,432 $53,328 Provisional balloting $44,625 $193,150 $142,623 $182,425 Training election judges and clerks* $54,550 Visiting health care facilities* --- $288,000 $288,000 $288,000 TOTAL $149,175 $547,942 $434,055 $523,753
*Costs would be borne by the cities.
SOURCE: Hennepin County Elections