GOP lawmakers start voter ID amendment work
ST. PAUL -- Republican lawmakers say they will push a proposed constitutional amendment early next year requiring Minnesotans to show photographic identification cards before voting.
Sen. Scott Newman of Hutchinson and Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake on Tuesday said they are disappointed that Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill that would have changed state law to require a photo ID and announced they will sponsor a proposed constitutional amendment that would bypass Dayton and go directly to a public vote in November of 2012.
They said they will not bring up the issue during a special session this summer to pass a state budget, but will seek early committee hearings on the issue in the next regular legislative session that begins in late January.
"I see no reason whatsoever not to move forward with protecting our election integrity," Newman said.
Language voters will see on their ballots next year, if the House and Senate pass the measure as expected, is being worked out, but Kiffmeyer said it will contain three basic principles:
E Every voter will be required to produce a photo ID before casting a ballot.
E Voters' identification will be subject to verification.
E The state will subsidize the cost of ID cards for anyone who does not have one, such as a driver's license.
If voters approve the amendment, the Legislature would need to enact laws specifying details about how the constitutional requirements would be carried out.
Democrats criticized the proposed amendment as one that lacks any need. The only problem with the state's election system is some felons have voted when they are not eligible, Rep. Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley said, and a photo ID requirement would not stop them.
The League of Women Voters opposes the measure, saying it would restrict voter rights.
"Our state and its constitution should stand on the side of the voter, and not create unnecessary barriers to voting," league Executive Director Laura Fredrick Wang said.
Last month, Dayton launched a task force to examine election integrity.
There is no evidence of widespread Minnesota voter fraud.
"I'm not buying into the notion that there is not voter fraud," Newman said. "I am buying into the notion that we don't know."