Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment, Amendment 2 (2012)

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Voter Identification Amendment
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Type:Legislative referral
Constitution:Minnesota Constitution
Topic:Elections
Status:On the ballot
An Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment will appear on the November 2012 ballot in the state of Minnesota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The proposal would require that all voters in the state show photo identification before voting. Legislation to enact similar laws without a constitutional amendment passed both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature, but were vetoed by Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton.[1][2] Since the special session was to be devoted to pressing budget issues, Republicans were expected to push the measure early in the 2012 session.[3][4]

Background

In late February, 2012, Minnesota lawmakers reportedly began considering an alternative to the voter ID amendment. The alternative is a so-called "electronic poll book" and is currently circulating the legislature as a bill. Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has touted the poll book as a less expensive option that would allow election officials to look up existing drivers' license photos or take new ones of voters at polling places. Secretary Ritchie spoke to a House committee on the suggestion saying that it would be an easier system for many voters, his examples included those who no longer drive, or those who have changed addresses whiteout updating their ID. Some in the legislature see the bill as a diversionary tactic or as a law to merely augment the amendment, such as, state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer who said, "We see it as complementary, maybe, but not a substitute." Others, such as, Republican Senator John Howe see it as an alternative to using the amendment process, saying, "I can’t speak to whether this does anything on the constitutional amendment for photo ID. But I can tell you that I personally, along with many of my colleagues, want to see things done as much as we can legislatively."[5]

Text of measure

The question to be presented to the voters is as follows:

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Constitutional Changes

The proposed amendment would amend Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution. [7]

Support

Sen. Scott Newman, the bill author, calls the proposal an "additional measure of integrity." According to reports, Newman said his proposal is to add "photo ID mandate to age, residency and citizenship voting requirements already in the state Constitution."[8]

Opposition

  • "A new voter ID would disproportionately affect older voters because we know they're less likely to have the required identification," said Amy McDonough, a spokesperson with AARP. The AARP, or American Association of Retired Persons, is against the proposed measure.[9]

Opponents

Tactics and strategies

  • In February the ACLU of Minnesota offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could find a convicted case of voter impersonation, a kind of voter fraud that would be prevented by the voter-ID law. In March, Dan McGrath, of Minnesota Majority, claimed the prize showing court records of 2008 case in which a woman voted twice, once in her own name, and once in her daughter's name through an absentee ballot. Chuck Samuelson, executive director of ACLU-Minnesota, said he would review the case and award the prize if everything checked out, however, he did add that the fact that prosecutors found the case means that the current system is working without voter ID.[13]
  • The Willmar Area League of Women Voters has planned program on the amendment to be held at 7 p.m. on May 14 at the Bethel Lutheran Church in Willmar.[10]
  • Former Vice President Walter Mondale
  • Former Gov. Arne Carlson[14]

Lawsuit

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Initiative process

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court challenging the wording of the ballot question itself. Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU-MN, said, "This ballot proposal is incredibly troubling because it asks voters to put an amendment in the Constitution in a manner that is misleading, confusing and unclear."[15]

The court has scheduled oral arguments for BC2012#July 17. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has asked the court to decide the case by August 27 so that there will be enough time for ballots to be designed and printed for voters to access absentee ballots.[16]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Minnesota Constitution

Proposed amendments must be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the Minnesota State Legislature.

In Minnesota, the only type of ballot measure permitted are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Pursuing a ballot amendment instead of normal legislation would allow lawmakers to circumvent a veto by Gov. Mark Dayton (D). One of the chief proponents of a voter identification requirement is Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R). Before attempting to take the issue to the ballot, she pursued two bills which would mandate voter identification via traditional legislation. These bills are as follows:

House File 210's companion Senate bill, SF 509, has since been passed by the Senate and the House. However, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill on May 26, 2011.[17][18] Prepared for the veto, Kiffmeyer and others proposed the following ballot amendment: Minnesota House File 1597.[19]

On February 22, 2012, the Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee approved the amendment 8-5 along party lines.[20]

On March 19, the Minnesota Rules and Legislative Administration Committee approved the amendment, thereby passing it on to the full House, where it was approved.[21]

On Friday, March 23, 2012, the Minnesota Senate passed the amendment on a 36-30 vote. This action passed the amendment to the November ballot.[22]

However, the measure was held off the ballot. Another version of the bill was being considered in legislature, therefore a conference committee drafted a compromise bill, one that would be placed on the ballot should the state legislature approve it. According to reports, the compromise bill was passed unanimously by the committee, sending it one more time to the lawmaking body for ballot approval.[23]

This compromise version of the bill was ten passed by the House on April 3, 2012, with a 72-57 vote. The next day it was passed by the Senate on a vote of 35-29.[24]

See also

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External links

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Additional reading

References

  1. MPR News, "Kiffmeyer says photo ID requirement could be placed on the ballot", April 14, 2011
  2. The Minnesota Independent,"Republicans introduce voter ID constitutional amendment," April 28, 2011
  3. MPR, "Push begins to get voter ID on ballot," June 7, 2011
  4. Detroit Lakes Online, "GOP lawmakers start voter ID amendment work early," June 13, 2011
  5. Albert Lea Tribune "Lawmakers mull a substitute voter ID plan," February 29, 2012
  6. Minnesota Legislature "House File 2738 (2012)" (Lines 2.8 to 2.10)
  7. Minnesota Legislature "House File 131 (2011)" (Lines 1.6 to 1.9)
  8. Grand Forks Herald,"Proposed voter photo ID amendment receives first examination at Minnesota Legislature," February 1, 2012
  9. 9.0 9.1 KARE 11,"Voter ID amendment gets first debate," February 2, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 West Central Tribune "Program on voter ID is tonight at Bethel in Willmar, Minn.," ay 14, 2012
  11. MinnPost "Could Photo ID be scuttled even if Minnesota voters approve constitutional amendment?" May 22, 2012
  12. KEYC "New Website Addresses Proposed Amendments To The State Constitution," May 23, 2012
  13. Star Tribune "Group claims $1,000 ACLU prize for finding voting fraud," March 6, 2012
  14. Minnesota Public Radio "Mondale, Carlson to lead voter ID opposition," June 26, 2012
  15. Alexandria Echo Press "Voter ID amendment: Minnesota’s version of ‘Papers, please’?" June 22, 2012
  16. Winona Daily News "Minn. lawmakers defend voter ID measure validity," June 27, 2012
  17. The Minnesota Daily, "Voter ID passes House, headed to Senate," May 6, 2011
  18. Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Voter ID-card bill clears House," May 6, 2011
  19. Star Tribune, "Photo ID for voting is on a fast track," April 30, 2011
  20. Associated Press "Minnesota Committee Advances Voter ID Ballot Measure," February 23, 2012
  21. Minnesota Public Radio "Full Minn. House to take up voter ID amendment," March 19, 2012
  22. Associated Press "Senate passes photo ID, but critics vow litigation," March 24, 2012
  23. Star Tribune, "An all-GOP conference panel sent the proposed constitutional amendment to full Legislature", April 2, 2012
  24. Star Tribune "Voter ID amendment is now up to Minnesota's voters," April 4, 2012