Isanti County auditor outlines potential impact of Voter ID constitutional amendment

On this November’s election ballot will be state constitutional amendment question whether valid photo identification will be required for elections held after July 1, 2013. Should it pass, there will be essentially one rule to follow to keep complications down: Get a valid government-issued ID well before upcoming elections.

Coming out of the 2012 MN Legislature session, the electoral question will be posed as follows: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”

At the June 6 Isanti County Board meeting, County Auditor Terry Treichel outlined potential impacts on his office if Minnesota voters approve the constitutional amendment.

Celebrating length of service awards following the wellness picnic were, in front, Ann Peterson (25 years), Catherine McCann (10 years), Kathy Minkler (25 years), Kelly Hohlen (5 years), Darcy Rowe (10 years) and Janice Lauseng (15 years). In back are Chad Struss (5 years), Judy Olson (15 years), Barbara Baar (40 years), Ann Stackpool Gunderson (25 years), Isanti County Commissioner Susan Morris (5 years), John Taubert (30 years) and Matthew Holida (5 years). Not pictured are 15-year recipients Jeanine Rabe and Eric Nelson; 20-year recipients Richard Schoenwald, Wanda Johnson, Robert Dowd and Lance Olson; and 25-year recipients William Guenther and Dennis Valentyn. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

The main impact would be the “Provisional Ballots” election sites would need to issue to voters who show up with no government-issued voter ID, Treichel explained. First off, Provisional boxes cost $100 each, so there could be an added $1,700 to the county’s budget to cover all voting sites. An extra election official would be needed to make sure the Provisional ballot does not end up in the regular ballot counter box. A guard may also have to be posted on the Provisional box.

Provisional ballot voters will have between three and 14 days post-election to return to his office with a government-issued photo ID to make their ballot official. Then, Treichel’s office may need to budget additional staff time to count the Provisionals, depending on how many stack up.

Citizens can help by simply following the plan as pointed out by Commissioner Susan Morris: “Get registered ahead of time and help prevent the need for Provisional balloting.”

At the end of his Power point presentation, Treichel appeared a bit exasperated by the whole Voter ID issue. “I wouldn’t want voter numbers to go down because of any reason. I haven’t seen voter fraud in 20 years on this job,” he stated.

• In a related matter, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with others filed a suit with the Minnesota Supreme Court on May 30 requesting the court bar the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment from appearing on the November ballot. “This ballot proposal is incredibly troubling because it asks voters to put an amendment in the constitution in a manner that is misleading, confusing and unclear,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN, in a statement.

Springvale Park shelter plans tabled

Also at the June 6 meeting, Isanti County Parks Director Barry Wendorf appeared before the county board with a low bid of $12,600 from Evergreen Log Homes of Princeton for the 10’x15’ log interpretative shelter for Springvale County Park. A Legacy Grant was already approved which will reimburse the county up to 89 percent of the total cost.

Pausing to think about it for a minute, board members Larry Southerland and George Larson raised the question: should a larger shelter at Springvale be considered to be more multi-use (ie. one which could house picnic tables)? By a 5-0 vote, the board approved to table the bid granting in order for Wendorf to look into the matter more, particularly touching base with the Legacy Commission to see how the approved grant will be affected. County Attorney Jeff Edblad advised that another public hearing may then be required since the county would be deviating substantially from the original plan.

The board did approve Leaf Construction’s low bid of $43,800 to pave one-mile of trail at Springvale Park.

• Springvale Township received a $565,800 SPRA grant to blacktop 341st Ave, Holly St. NW and Larch St. NW to improve roads leading to Becklin Family Park & WMA. An additional $3,280 was requested out of IC Park Board funds for the project slated for this summer and approved by the county board. The remainder of the funds for the $650,000 total project cost will be assessed to township residents.

Master Gardeners annual report

Isanti County Master Gardener Les Anderson presented his group’s annual report at the June 6 meeting, detailing the successes of a busy 2011/2012 season. He noted that the Community Gardens located just west of the Government Center on the old State Hospital grounds is a rousing success, with 70-75 participants filling all the plots which include raised beds to aid senior citizens with their gardening needs. Those gardens were featured in a University of Minnesota Extension newsletter.

“We’re pretty proud of that,” spoke Anderson. “We’re now looking into the possibility of a Community Garden somewhere on the east side of Cambridge.”

Anderson continued the 32 active Master Gardener members were also kept busy with house calls, monitoring the “Yard & Garden” helpline (763-689-8255), hosting the “Burst into Spring” horticultural event and hosting monthly speakers on horticultural topics.

In 2011, Master Gardeners contributed 1,347 volunteer hours, and so far in 2012 the group has accumulated 1,410 volunteer hours.

Barbara Baar: 40 years serving Isanti County

Barbara Baar celebrated 40 years of service to the county last week when the annual County Picnic/Length of Service Awards was hosted. Baar

Deputy County Administrator/HR Director Barbara Baar celebrated 40 years of service at the county’s annual picnic June 6. Photo by Greg Hunt

began her career in the Court Administrator Office in the old Isanti County Courthouse in downtown Cambridge. After 10 years, she moved into the County Coordinator’s Office (now called “Administrator’s Office), working with the likes of coordinators George Rindelaub (now the Stearns Co. Administrator), Robin Sykes, Jerry Tvedt and presently Kevin VanHooser.

“I’ve seen a lot of growth over the years,” said Baar during a quick break at the June 6 board meeting. “The old jail used to be in the basement of the old courthouse, and we had this one old, large key we used for the steel door to get into the jail. Our dispatchers had the dual role of being our first jailers.”

“This is a great county to live in,” she continued. “I’ve been blessed to work with the public and a wonderful group of county employees, along with working with all the good county board members over the years.”

Next County Board meeting: Wednesday, June 20, 9 a.m.