By Rep. Dean Urdahl
Minnesotans hold election integrity sacred. The Legislature recently passed a bill allowing our state’s citizens to decide if photo ID is an appropriate measure to strengthen our process.
This legislation (H.F. 2738) places the following question on ballots Minnesotans will receive in November: 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?
The intent is to make sure all eligible voters are afforded an opportunity to participate in elections, but to also ensure voting is conducted as intended. I do not want anyone who is eligible to vote to be disenfranchised and I believe measures are in place to prevent that from happening.
The vast majority of Minnesotans should be able to produce a photo ID without a problem, but safeguards would be in place to help eliminate potential hang-ups. As stated in the constitutional question, eligible citizens who lack a state-issued photo ID may request a voting card free of charge. If, for whatever reason, someone is unable to provide a photo ID at the poll, they still may submit a provisional ballot and verify their identity after the fact.
Surveys continually indicate Minnesotans overwhelmingly support a photo ID requirement. A KSTP poll conducted last week shows approximately 75 percent of respondents are in favor of this measure, a figure that is consistent with others I’ve seen.
We received more good news regarding our state economy last week. A recent report indicates another 6,000 jobs were added in Minnesota last month, bringing our total for the last three months to 32,300. The report also says we have regained more than half of the jobs lost during the recession.
An interesting twist to this development is unemployment actually increased a tick last month, from 5.6 percent to 5.7 percent. Many people who gave up looking for jobs during the recession were not accounted for in previous unemployment figures. A number of those people have resumed looking for jobs now that businesses are hiring again, reappearing on the unemployment radar.
Small businesses drive our economy and it is important to note many of these new jobs are in the private sector. This will help to broaden our tax base and put our state on a more sustainable course, a departure from the days of using taxpayer dollars to put fellow taxpayers to work by expanding government.
The decisions we are making in St. Paul are producing strong returns. Entrepreneurs are more apt to innovate and expand with the certainty we are providing. Let’s all hope this leads Minnesota to a full economic recovery and return to prosperity in the near future.