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Minnesota Legislature

Vetoed: Photo ID for voters

Published (7/15/2011)
By Nick Busse
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Gov. Mark Dayton nixed a plan to require all Minnesotans to present a valid photo ID card before voting.

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), the bill would have required all voters to present a valid state -issued photo ID with their current address before casting their ballots. Limited exceptions would have been made for those in nursing homes, battered women’s shelters and similar facilities.

The issue of whether to require voters to show a photo ID has long been a top priority for Republicans, who say doing so would prevent illegal voting and boost public confidence in the integrity of elections. In his veto letter, Dayton disagreed, and said the state’s election system is already “the best in the nation.”

“The push to require photo identification in order to vote has been based on the premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota,” he wrote. “I do not believe that to be the case.”

Most DFL lawmakers opposed the bill, arguing that requiring a valid photo ID for voting would present a hardship for senior citizens, college students, persons with disabilities and certain other groups. Dayton cited this lack of bipartisan support as among his reasons for vetoing the bill.

The governor further argued that the bill would have created an unfunded mandate on local governments, who would have to shoulder the cost of upgrading their election systems at a time when they are losing state aid. He also said a provision in the bill to change the canvassing date for the state primary would have violated a federal law related to military voters stationed overseas.

Along with his veto, Dayton issued an executive order creating a Task Force on Election Integrity. Made up of lawmakers of both parties and various state and local officials, the group will be charged with finding ways to “modernize the state’s elections, while protecting citizens’ fundamental right to vote.”

In addition to requiring photo ID, the bill would have provided that voters without an ID could cast a provisional ballot. The ballot would have been counted if they verified their identity to local authorities within seven days after an election. The practice of vouching as a means of same-day registration would have been eliminated.

Voters without a current photo ID could have applied for a free voter ID card from the state, under the provisions. The bill would also have provided for a system of electronic polling place rosters to replace the current paper-based system; however, adoption of the new rosters would have been optional to each local government.

HF210/ SF509*/CH69

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