Earlier this month, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said it was possible that she would try to amend the state's constitution to require people to show photo identification in order to vote. Today, Kiffmeyer made good on that pledge. Kiffmeyer is introducing the bill later today. GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers is a co-sponsor.
The so-called voter ID issue is now moving along dual tracks. The Minnesota Senate is expected to vote on its bill soon. Kiffmeyer is pushing legislation but there is concern among Republicans that Gov. Dayton will veto the bill. But the governor can't veto a constitutional amendment. Voters in next year's election would then decide the issue. The constitution will be amended if a majority of those voting in the election vote in favor of it.
Critics of the photo ID requirement say it's a solution in search of a problem. They argue that Minnesota's election system is fine and point to two recent statewide recounts as an example that the state has a clean election system.
This is the second controversial proposed constitutional amendment to surface in the last two days. On Tuesday, Republicans announced that they'll push to define marriage as between one man and one woman in the state's constitution.
Update: MPR's Tim Nelson talked to Kiffmeyer about her decision:
Kiffmeyer said that the issue gets widespread support, well over 50 percent. She cited a poll by the Rochester newspaper that found more than 90 percent support for the idea.
"I think when you have a 75 to 85 percent, 91 percent, you have a lot Democrats supporting photo ID," Kiffmeyer said. "A whole lot of Democrats to get to that kind of polling result. And then you have the numbers of people on the house floor last year, where we had a vote on the House floor, where we had some Democrats supporting photo ID as well."
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, issued this statement on the proposal:
Both Speaker Zellers and Majority Leader Dean are co-authors to the voter ID amendment, which actually increases our deficit while disenfranchising seniors, and people with disabilities.
The constitutional right to vote is something we should take very seriously. Passing a voter ID requirement makes it more difficult for Minnesotans to vote despite our long tradition of civic participation and election integrity.
Time will only tell what tomorrow brings from the Republicans. For the sake of finishing our work in a timely fashion let's hope they do something, or anything, that helps us get our state's finances in order."
Elections must not only be honest but they must be perceived to be honest and fair. Since Indiana has passed their Photo ID law, voter participation has increased.
This is a reform whose time has come.
All parties should benefit in the long run.
Hmmm - sounds like an argument for a national picture ID program. But wait! Aren't these same people paranoid about a government by Big Brother? (See "1984", by George Orwell.)
Couldn't we simply wait until there is a demonstrated problem with election fraud before finding a solution?