A proposal to let Minnesotans decide on whether to require voters to present government-issued photo identification cleared its final hurdle in the House.
A vote on the Senate floor now awaits HF2738*/ SF1577. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), the bill proposes amending the state’s constitution so that voters must prove their identity using an approved form of photo ID.
The House and Senate passed different versions of the bill in late March, and members of a conference committee signed off on a compromise version Tuesday morning. On a 72-57 party-line vote, the House re-passed the bill as amended by conference. If the Senate follows suit, the following question will be put to the voters in November:
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”
A majority of voters would have to approve the amendment on this fall’s General Election ballot in order for it to take effect. The next Legislature would then be tasked with passing an enabling law spelling out the details of how the photo ID requirement would be implemented.
Passing a photo ID requirement has long been a top priority for Republican lawmakers, who say it’s needed to ensure the integrity of the state’s elections. DFLers oppose the measure because they think it will make voting more difficult for certain groups like poor people, college students and the elderly.
DFLers also argue the language of the proposed amendment is unclear and could make same-day registration and absentee voting illegal. They say the bill would create chaos at the polling place and invite many years of court challenges.
“This is about much more than just photo ID. This is leaking into other areas of election law that Minnesotans care about and that they don’t want to see go away,” said Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park).
Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina) said DFL claims of disenfranchisement and eliminating same-day registration are simply a “scare tactic.”