The Center of the American Experiment recently released a report, “The Costs and Benefits of Minnesota’s Proposed Photo ID Constitutional Amendment,” authored by Peter J. Nelson, John R. LaPlante, and Kent Kaiser.
This report downplays the financial costs of the proposed amendment, but its most provocative claim is that “substantial cost savings accrue when photo ID is coupled with electronic poll book technology.” Specifically, in return for an estimated initial investment of $5 million, a cost savings of approximately $1 million per general election could be realized.
Both of these estimates have substantial problems, but even if we accept the numbers, the idea that the proposed amendment could be a net win from a financial standpoint falters on two fundamental problems. First, the projected savings would be possible even without a photo ID requirement. Second, the initial investment is in fact a recurring cost that would be necessary each time the laptop computers reached the end of their useful lives.
You should read the rest if you are at all interested in election technology. And especially if you live in Minnesota. It seems that some of the Minnesota counties are pretty worried about the costs they would incur if the Republicans’ Election Amendment is passed.