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Elections

House passes voter ID bill

published 5/5/2011
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A plan to require all voters to present a valid photo identification card at their polling place was passed 73-59 by the House.

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), HF201/ SF509* would require all voters to present a photo ID with their current address before receiving a ballot. It now returns to the Senate, where a different version passed 37-26 on April 28.

Under the provisions, voters without an ID could cast a provisional ballot that would be counted if they verify their identity to local authorities within seven days after an election. Also, voters without a current photo ID could apply for a free voter ID card; however, they must have appropriate documentation to prove their identity.

The bill would also provide for a system of electronic polling place rosters to replace the current paper-based system; however, adoption of the new rosters would be optional to each local government.

During nearly four hours of debate, supporters argued the bill would enhance the integrity of the state’s elections, while opponents argued it would disenfranchise some voters.

Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), whose birth certificate read “Baby Boy Urdahl,” said he sympathizes with those who have trouble proving their identity to the government; however, he overcame his personal difficulties in that area, and argued others would too.

“I think we have the resiliency to surmount whatever problems come up,” he said.

Rep. Kerry Gauthier (DFL-Duluth) said the bill amounted to a “poll tax” that unfairly targets people who can’t afford to obtain the documents they would need to get a photo ID. He added that the problem of voter impersonation has never been shown to exist in Minnesota.

“It’s really about poll taxes, and it’s really about voter suppression,” he said of the bill.

- Nick Busse


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