House passes Voter ID bill

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Members of the House voted 72-62 to put a question on this November’s ballot asking Minnesotans whether government-issued photo ID should be required for voting.

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), HF2738 proposes amending the state’s constitution so that voters would have to present an approved photo ID card at their polling place on Election Day. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) is the sponsor.

After more than 9 hours of floor debate, all Republican members voted for the bill and all DFL members voted against it. As in previous debates on the issue, Republicans said photo ID is needed to prevent voter fraud while DFLers argued it will disenfranchise voters. Both sides accused each other of having no evidence to back their claims.

Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) said the issue is a “no-brainer” for most Minnesotans.

“Frankly, most people are shocked when they go to the polls and they pull out their driver’s license and the election judge says, ‘Oh, that’s okay, that’s not required,’” she said.

Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) warned that Republicans were igniting an “arms race” of partisan constitutional amendments.

“We are putting policy preferences into the constitution on a whim because one political party can, because they have the votes,” he said.

The Legislature passed a voter ID requirement in 2011, but Gov. Mark Daytonvetoed it. Kiffmeyer’s bill would put the question directly to voters, thereby avoiding the governor’s desk.

As written, the bill would allow absentee voting to continue using the same process that’s already used. It would also allow voters to use photo IDs that don’t show their current address as long as they have some other way to prove their residency.

If a majority of voters approve the constitutional change, the details of how to implement it would be left to the next Legislature, which would have to pass enabling legislation.

The bill would pose the following question to voters:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification on election day and that the state provide free identification to eligible voters?”

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill that will ask voters whether to define marriage as being only between one man and one woman. The question will appear on the ballot in November.