After election, Republicans make the case for photo IDsby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The battle for the governor's office is over, but the fight over election integrity continues.
Republicans have watched their top candidate come out on the losing end after two statewide recounts.
In 2008, it was DFLer Al Franken defeating Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate race. This year, Democrat Mark Dayton defeated Republican Tom Emmer.
Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton says the current system of voting -- which allows for same day registration and vouching for an unregistered person's residency -- need changes.
"After 2008, and especially after being so deeply involved myself in 2010, I can tell you right now that things aren't perfect in Lake Wobegon when it comes to elections," said Sutton at a Republican meeting last weekend.
During his concession speech, Tom Emmer said he would continue to push election integrity issues. In fact, Republicans have been trying to change Minnesota's election laws for years.
Now, they have have the votes in the Legislature to do it. Incoming Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he thinks moving to a system that requires people to show photo identification at the polls would erase doubts that many Republicans have about election integrity.
"It will clear that up because you can have your ID and match the ID with your name. You don't have to do the mass vouching," Zellers said. "Some of the things that will make the system quicker and cleaner but actually easier for the election judges as well."
Zellers said he's concerned about allegations regarding felons voting in 2008, illegal voter registrations by outside groups and the fact that some election judges said more ballots were cast on Election Night than there were voters who signed the roster.
Some county attorneys and local elections officials have said the problems are few and generally minor, but Zellers says a photo ID requirement would streamline the system.
Democrats disagree. "It has nothing to do with improving the election system," said Rep. Ryan Winkler.
Winkler said the alleged problems raised by Tom Emmer and the Republican Party either don't exist or weren't widespread enough to have changed the outcome of the election. Requiring photo IDs will make it harder for senior citizens, minorities and low income people to vote, he said.
"The only reason that Republicans care about photo ID is that they think it will turn away people who would otherwise vote Democratic," Winkler said. "It's all about gaining an advantage for their party. It's not about election integrity at all."
Democrats have controlled at least one body in the Legislature for 38 years and have been able to defeat the push for a photo id requirement for voting. But this year, Republicans control both chambers, which means there's a high likelihood a photo ID bill will land on the governor's desk.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said she also expects lawmakers will pass a bill to address problems brought up in the latest recount. Koch said photo ID at the polls will be a part of that conversation.
"Most Minnesotans support photo ID," she said. "We're supposed to be doing what the people want us to do. I'm kind of surprised to some of the opposition that has been thrown up to photo ID. It's passed in other states. It's been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court."
A spokeswoman for Democrat Mark Dayton said the governor-elect has no comment on changes to election law at this time.
But Dayton said during the campaign that he would not support efforts to require photo identification at the polls. Even if Dayton threatens to veto any legislation that addresses photo ID, that doesn't mean the issue is over.
Republicans could present the issue to voters as a proposed constitutional amendment. Those measures go to the voters without the input of the governor.
- Morning Edition, 12/10/2010, 7:20 a.m.