Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment, Amendment 2 (2012)

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Minnesota Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIV
An Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment will appear on the 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 as follows:

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require that all voters present an approved form of photographic identification prior to voting; all voters be subject to identical eligibility verification standards regardless of the time of their registration; and the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible voters?"

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]

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.[10]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Minnesota Constitution

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.[11][12] Prepared for the veto, Kiffmeyer and others proposed the following ballot amendment: Minnesota House File 1597.[13]

On February 22, 2012, the Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee approved the amendment 8-5 along party lines.[14]

On March 19, the Minnesota Rules and Legislative Administration Committee approved the amendment, thereby passing it on to the full House.[15]

On Friday, March 23, 2012, the Minnesota Senate passed the amendment on a 36-30 vote. This action passes the amendment to the November ballot.[16]

See also

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References