Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Voter ID amendment approved

Published (3/9/2012)
By Nick Busse
Share on: 

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, left, answers questions from members of the House Government Operations and Elections Committee March 8 during discussion of a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment to require voters to show a photo ID. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, the bill’s sponsor and a former secretary of state, listens to the testimony. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)A proposal to let Minnesotans vote on whether to require government-issued photo identification cards for voters cleared its first committee hurdle in the House.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) sponsors HF2738 that proposes amending the state’s constitution to require photo ID for voting. The House Government Operations and Elections Committee voted 9-6 to approve the bill. It now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Kiffmeyer said a photo ID requirement would ensure the integrity of the state’s elections as well as the opportunity for all eligible voters to cast their ballots. She said that while voting is sacred, a voter’s identity is not.

“Who you are and where you live is a matter of the public right to know,” Kiffmeyer said.

The Legislature passed a voter ID requirement in 2011, but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it. Kiffmeyer’s bill would put the question directly to voters, bypassing the governor’s approval. Under the delete-all amendment successfully offered by Kiffmeyer, the following question would be posed to voters on this November’s ballot:

“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?”

If approved by a majority of voters, it would fall on the next Legislature to pass enabling legislation spelling out exactly how the photo ID requirement would be implemented.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie testified in opposition to the bill. He said approximately 84,000 Minnesotans currently vote who do not possess a current photo ID. He also said the 550,000 Minnesotans who currently register on Election Day would now be forced to cast a provisional ballot. Based on experiences in other states, he said one-third of those provisional ballots might not be counted.

“This procedure is a radical change to our election system and I think we need to think about it carefully,” he said.

Kiffmeyer said the bill would allow those who vote by absentee ballot to continue doing so just as they do under the current system. Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said that would create two different standards, allowing absentee voters to skip the photo ID requirement.

“The amendment that you’re drafting just leaves a lot of gaping holes and questions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) said he feared the bill would spark an “arms race” of partisan constitutional amendments.

“If you do this, there will be very little restraint or no restraint the next time Democrats control the House and Senate,” Simon said.

Supporters included Rick Smisson, a self-identified election judge from Harris, who said he witnessed a group of more than 10 voters register on Election Day by giving the address of a local laundromat as their home address. He said photo ID is needed to ensure that voters only vote once in an election.

Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) sponsors the companion, SF1577, which awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Voters to decide on photo ID
Fate of constitutional question now rests in the people’s hands
(view full story) Published 4/6/2012

Proving who you say you are
House votes to approve ballot question on photo ID for voters
(view full story) Published 3/23/2012

Where the people are
Population growth varies across state but has big redistricting impact
(view full story) Published 5/6/2011

Drawing the lines
Redistricting plan is far from bipartisan acceptance
(view full story) Published 5/6/2011

First Reading: Identification, please?
Lawmakers weigh photo ID requirement for voters
(view full story) Published 2/11/2011

At Issue: A push here, a bubble there
State redistricting is a balancing act that’s not often easy
(view full story) Published 1/21/2011