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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Representatives Simon, Winkler and Nelson offer DFL alternative to voter ID legislation

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
February 8, 2011 (SAINT PAUL) — House Democrats have offered a voter verification alternative to the Republican sponsored voter ID legislation passed out of the Government Operations and Elections Committee today. The bill, HF 210, authored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R — Big Lake), would require all Minnesotans to show an ID before casting their ballot in an effort to root out supposed voter fraud. State Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL — Brooklyn Park) says there are less intrusive, more efficient and more effective ways to protect our voting process. He says that the bill that passed the committee goes too far. “These proposals would fence out seniors, students, overseas military personnel and countless others from their constitutional right to vote," Rep. Nelson, the DFL lead on the Government Operations and Elections Committee said. “From the 94 year-old senior to the college students and the caretakers of the disabled who testified before our committee, it’s clear this risk is real. We need common-sense solutions to protect our election system without making it more difficult for honest people to vote.” State Rep. Steve Simon (DFL — St. Louis Park) points out that the current bills are bloated, expensive, and ineffective. “This bill would spend as much as $40 million and create new levels of regulation and bureaucracy in response to 38 cases of felons voting,” said Rep. Simon, referring to a study by the Citizens for Election Integrity that debunked claims of voter fraud. “Spending over $1 million per felon vote makes absolutely no sense when we’re facing a $6.2 billion deficit, especially when the proposed legislation does not prevent felon voting.” The three representatives offered three alternatives to safeguard election integrity: toughening penalties for election violations, including not only illegal voting and illegal registering, but illegal interference with legitimate voting as well; broadening the moter-voter law so that people who aren’t allowed to vote can be pre-screened out of the process; and expanding early voting options, including “no excuse” absentee options. “Our approach avoids the huge price tag, the exclusion of honest Minnesota voters, and the logistical nightmares that the current voter ID proposal will cause,” said State Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL — Golden Valley). “We have one of the greatest election systems in the country and we should be looking to improve upon it, not dismantle it.” Rep. Nelson added, “With our proposals we can move toward a strong system of voter verification without the dangers and costs of voter ID.”