Minn. Lawmakers Approve Voter ID Amendment

Thursday, 05 Apr 2012 10:36 AM

By Greg McDonald

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In a move that has national implications, Minnesota lawmakers signed off a constitutional amendment Wednesday that would require all voters to show photo identification before casting ballots.

The amendment, which would also create a new system of provisional balloting and end Election Day ‘vouching’ for voters without proof of residence, passed both the state House and Senate with all but one Republican voting yes, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Every Democrat opposed it.

“We will now turn this over to the people of Minnesota, and they will ultimately decide this issue,” said Republican state Sen. Scott Newman, chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

If it survives expected court challenges, the photo ID issue will be placed on the November election ballot alongside another controversial amendment — a state ban on gay marriage — approved earlier this year by lawmakers.

According to the Star Tribune, at least five states already have strict voter ID requirements on the books. Passage of the Minnesota amendment now puts the state at the heart of an ongoing battle unfolding in Mississippi, Missouri, Wisconsin, and a handful of other states, where GOP and conservative lawmakers are trying to make changes to election laws.

Minnesota’s Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who opposes the amendment but nonetheless would have to oversee it, told the Star Tribune that it would “turn our state’s entire election system upside down” if approved in November.

But Republican Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, who sponsored the amendment in the House and preceded Ritchie as secretary of state, said the system needs fixing.
“If you have no system that deters and detects fraud, and you don’t determine the identity of voters, the electoral system cannot inspire public confidence,” she said.

While Republicans insisted the bill was a common sense measure to ensure voter security, Democrats said it would only create more barriers to voting and wreak havoc with the state’s popular Election Day registration system.


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