Will voter ID change early, absentee voting? - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Early, absentee voting gets underway -- but will voter ID change it?

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Early voting is underway in two dozen states, with more to come as we're just about 40 days away from Election Day.

Voters in Idaho, South Dakota and Vermont can already vote in-person, and Iowa and Wyoming start early voting on Thursday. More than half the ballots are expected to be cast early in the key states of Colorado, Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.

Minnesota doesn't have early voting like our neighbors in Iowa and South Dakota, but those with a valid reason that prevents them from making it to the polls can vote absentee. Absentee voting started Friday in Minnesota.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney is making an aggressive push for early votes, much like President Obama did in his 2008 win over John McCain.

Nationwide, about three of every 10 voters uses an absentee ballot -- and it's unclear how requiring photo ID before casting a ballot might affect those voters in states where legislation is currently pending.

In Minnesota, 10 percent of voters sent in absentee ballots in 2008, and officials expect the number will be about the same this year.

A Star Tribune poll released on Sunday shows more than half of Minnesotans still support Voter ID, but opponents are gaining ground -- and that likely has to do with growing questions about issues like absentee ballots.

There are differing opinions on whether absentee voting would remain simple if the photo ID amendment passes.

"There are some questions that are unanswered today that clearly must be answered," said Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky.

Mansky said the first question is what to do about people who are overseas or in the military, because they would need a witness to verify that they are who they say they are on the absentee ballot and document their photo ID number.

Another question is how photo ID laws will impact provisional or temporary ballots for people voting out of the state or country, Mansky said.

"The voters will make a determination one way or the other," he said. "Whatever they decide to do, we will then rely on the Legislature to come up with whatever procedures make the most sense."

Dan McGrath, of Minnesota Majority, says sense is the entire point of the referendum.

"This is just a common sense measure. Minnesota is very much a common-sense state," he said.

According to McGrath, the only change absentee ballots would see is that the box to signify that a voter does not have photo identification will be taken off the ballot.

"For the overwhelming majority of people, absentee voting won't change at all," McGrath said. "For the few that have to get ID, it will be provided at no charge."

Still, opponents of the amendment say it is being driven by Republicans in an effort to suppress Democratic voters.

"The practical consequences [are]: There are going to be endless lawsuits and mess in creating chaos in an election system that is, by any rational measure, a very good one," said Rep. Ryan Winkler.

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