Rep. Ellison introduces voting bills in Congress


Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., introduced a bill in Congress Wednesday that would prohibit all states from requiring photo identification at the polls.

“The Voter Access Protection Act” comes at a time when states across the nation, including Minnesota, have moved to establish photo ID laws as a protection against voter fraud. Legislatures in 20 states introduced such a bill in 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“This legislation would prohibit one of the most pernicious forms of voter suppression, requiring a strict photo identification card at the polls,” said the bill’s co-author, Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., in a press release. 

Fourteen states have laws on the books that require voters to present a photo ID at the polls.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a bill in May, only to be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton after the session ended.

“The push to require photo identification in order to vote has been based on the premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota,” Dayton wrote in his veto letter. “I do not believe that to be the case.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, also introduced a bill that would put the question of whether to require photo ID on the 2012 ballot as a constitutional amendment, but the bill didn’t pass before the legislative session ended.

Ellison introduced another bill Wednesday, “The Same Day Registration Act,” which would require every state to provide same-day registration in federal elections.

Including Minnesota, just nine states have some form of same-day registration. Kiffmeyer’s bill in the state Legislature would have eliminated the Minnesota statute that allows registered voters to vouch for a person registering at the polls.

“These bills will help ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their fundamental rights in federal elections,” Ellison said on the on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Both bills are currently awaiting hearing. Given Republicans control of the House, it’s unlikely either bill will move forward.