Voter ID amendment sent to House floor


A proposed constitutional amendment that would require photo identification for voting is headed for the House floor.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) sponsors HF2738 that proposes a requirement for voters to show a government-issued photo ID card at their polling places. In order to take effect, the change would have to be approved by a majority of voters on this November’s ballot.

The House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote of 13-10. Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) sponsors the companion,  SF1577, which awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

DFLers on the committee argued that a provision allowing for absentee voting would create different identity verification standards for different voters. They also argued that requiring photo ID could lead to suppressed turnout among certain groups of voters.

Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) said the proposal was “very partisan” and left unanswered questions about how a photo ID requirement would be implemented.

“Constitutional amendments ought to be bipartisan,” Benson said.

DFLers also accused the chairman, House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), of cutting the debate short. Dean responded that limiting the debate was appropriate because the committee only had limited purview over the bill.

“I allowed questions to stray very far outside that purview,” Dean noted. That did not satisfy House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls), who called the proceedings “an embarrassment.”

As it’s written, the bill would ask voters to answer “yes” or “no” to the following question on this November’s ballot:

“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?”

If approved by a majority of voters this year, it would fall on the next Legislature to pass enabling legislation to specify how the photo ID requirement will be implemented.

Dean declined to say when the bill might be brought up on the floor.