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Tentative deal on voter ID

Published (5/20/2011)
By Nick Busse
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A plan to require all Minnesota voters to show a valid photo identification to vote is one step closer to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

Members of a conference committee reached an agreement May 14 on language for HF210/ SF509*. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), the bill would require all voters to present a photo ID with their current address before receiving a ballot.

The Senate re-passed the bill 37-25 May 18 as amended by conference. If re-passed by the House, it would go to the governor for action.

Overall, the bill is intended to boost the integrity of elections. It would require photo ID, but also provide that 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. Voters without a current photo ID could apply for a free voter ID card from the state.

The practices of vouching and Election Day registration would be eliminated. 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. Kiffmeyer emphasized that point.

“This is something that the local governments choose — whether this makes sense for their county,” she said.

Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill were largely technical in nature.

Among the more significant changes, conferees adopted House language providing a process for residents of a battered women’s shelter to prove their residency. They dropped Senate language that would have allowed vouching for residents of nursing homes and other residential facilities.

Also adopted was a provision that would require additional campaign finance reporting in the state. Though not directly related to voter ID, Kiffmeyer said the provision is intended to encourage the governor’s signature.

Critics of photo ID proposals argue the requirement presents difficulties for the elderly, the disabled, and those who move frequently or who lack financial resources.

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