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House Passes Voter Photo ID Bill

Local legislators have voiced opposition to the measure.

After a long debate that lasted from 5 p.m. Tuesday until around 2 a.m. Wednesday, the Minnesota House took a party-lines step toward making voters show photo IDs on Election Day.

All 72 House Republicans voted for the bill, while all 62 Democrats voted against it.

The measure would put a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot, asking Minnesota voters if they want to see the photo ID requirement. The Senate is expected to hear the same bill in a committee Wednesday and could hold a floor vote by Friday.

Because it is being proposed as a constitutional amendment, Gov. Mark Dayton would not get to sign off on the bill if it passes both the House and Senate.

Republican proponents say the bill would cut down on voter fraud. However, Democratic opponents to the bill have said it is a solution in search of a problem and could disenfranchise some voters.

Legislators in the new Senate District 46 have towed the party line. Rep. Ryan Winkler has said that older women, students, the disabled and battered women are among the groups that might have trouble voting if the amendment comes to pass.

Rep. Steve Simon said he is concerned about the precedent that would be set by approaching this issue as a constitutional amendment.

"This is a really big deal. For the first time in Minnesota history, we are putting policy preferences into the constitution on a whim, because one party can," he said. "This isn't necessary. Amending the constitution should only be done when absolutely necessary."

Simon has proposed a compromise of sorts. Simon's plan calls for electronic poll books at all Minnesota voting locations. Election judges would be able to identify voters using photographs in the poll books, meaning IDs would not be necessary.

The representative put forth an amendment on Tuesday night that would have broadened the technology available to verify an identity, but the amendment failed, 74-59.

Simon said he believes the constitutional amendment would pass if voters get a crack at it in November, but that doesn't mean it's the right move in his mind.

"If you vote yes on this, you are launching a missile. A missile in the start of a constitutional amendment arms race," he said. "Why don't we just stick whatever we like into the constitution?"

He added: "There are lots of things that are popular—it doesn't mean they should go into the constitution."

Heather G March 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I'm originally from FL, have been here about 5 yrs, and I have to say, I was VERY SURPRISED that there was a state out there that DIDN'T ask for ID when you vote. All my life I had to prove that I was who I said I was before I could punch the vote card. I never thought of the reasons against it until now. But, at this stage, aren't we just looking at putting it on the ballot for the voters to decide on, not actually implementing new procedures yet? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but if I'm understanding correctly, I think it should go to the voters. Then they can decide if it's the last time they can vote without showing identification.

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