At a debate on Minnesota's proposed "voter photo ID" constitutional amendment, Minnesota Majority's Dan McGrath says people who don't have a photo ID will get one for free. But what's "free" comes with cost that people might have to pay, which could be challenged as an illegal poll tax. Bluestem Prairie watch the debate and weighs in with this evidence: First, he(McGrath) implied that a petition of variance for an photo ID was free. McGrath starts talking about how those who currently have no ID could obtain them, beginning sat the 26.36 minute mark. . . .for those few who do lack identification--I know a couple of people who don't have it--they'll be provided with an identification at no charge, it's going to be at state expense. I expect the state will pay somewhere around $2 million the first year in order to get those people indentification. To the individual. there's no cost. Some have suggested there couldbe costs if they have to get a birth certificate, if there's something like that in order to get the identification card. So he recognises that getting the documents for the "free" ID card might cost something, but at the 27:00 mark, he implies that that wouldn't be a problem, since the petition for variance is available: But: if you don't have . . . a birth certificate, if you have extraordinary difficulty in obtaining a birth certificate or other supporting documents that you need to get your identification, there's already a process in place in current state law called a petition for variance, that enables people in those circumstances to get id without those primary and secondary documents. It takes a little longer to get your id because the Department of Public Safety has to check out your story but ultimately, it's no cost to the voter and it's minimal cost to the state for election integrity... McGrath fails to note that there's a charge for the petition itself. As Bluestem outlined the problem and the process earlier in the week in Minnesota Majority's Dan McGrath mansplains voter restriction to local election judge. There's reason to be annoyed with McGrath . . . Perhaps the most disconcerting is this assertion: 99% of people have the documents they need to get ID already. For the rest, there's a one page form called petition for variance available from DVS to allow people who don't have a birth certificate, etc an ID. Do you really think there's any valid person in Minnesota who couldn't get a valid ID? The state already has procedures for unusual circumstances. . . .Bluestem contacted Carolyn Jackson, lobbying coordinator at the American Civil Liberties Union-Minnesota with questions about the petition for variance. Lawyer that she is, Jackson outlined three civil rights problems inherent in McGrath's suggestion: A citizen must pay $10 for the petition for variance (The cost of the variance, when applied to voting, would be an unconstitutional poll tax) The variance is granted at the discretion of government (the rights of American citizens are not discretionary) DVS staffing levels are such that the investigation required for granting a petition is not a high priority and thus an investigation may take up to 30 days; should more petitions be filed, the average time could increase and exceed the system's capacity (due process)). However, the form requires documentation --for instance, if one's name has been changed: Evidence required for name change. If you have changed your legal full name as it appears on the presented primary document you must also present legal name change documents. To verify the name change, you must present one of the following documents: (1) A copy of the applicant's certificate of marriage certified by the issuing government jurisdiction; (2) A certified copy of a court order specifying the name change; or (3) A certified copy of a divorce decree or dissolution of marriage granted the applicant that specifies the name changes requested from a court of competent jurisdiction. The instructions for the one page form are two pages long, listing documentation. It's not a simple as it seems. Pat McCormick, Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services, testified to the Government Operations and Elections Committee, on Thursday, March 8, 2012: . . .It's a very time-consuming process and that's why there's a fee for it. And I can tell you that in the last year, we had 840 requests for variances, 586 were granted and 260 were denied. There's very specific criteria that our department has to look at in terms of approving a variance because you know we're talking about documents that are identity documents and we have to be sure that we're preventing fraud because drivers licenses are not only used for driving in today's world and so we have to be sure that it's secure and the people are who they say they are. So we do have that process in place but it takes a lot of time...We have thirty days in which we can make a decision about a variance. We try to turn them around in three days but what I mean by turning them around is starting a discussion with an applicant because oftentimes we have to work back and forth with applicants to get the right documents to get to prove that they are who they say they are. We have to work with the Social Security Administration, it's not a simple process. . . .[transcipt of House hearing audiotape] So that one-page form? It's not a simple process, though Dan McGrath and Minnesota Majority wants you to believe that it is. Nor is it free, nor an end-around for obtaining documentation.