MN House Committee approves Photo ID bill

A Minnesota House panel has advanced a bill requiring Minnesotans to show photo identification before voting.

The Government Operations and Elections Committee approved the measure today on a 9 to 6 vote. Under the bill, voters who don’t have a drivers license would receive a free, government-issued identification card. The measure also eliminates the practice of vouching as a way for people to prove their residency on Election Day. Republican Representative Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake said the danger of vouching is that it relies on honesty.

“We’re putting a lot inside this polling place with our election judges,” Kiffmeyer said. “Using technology and using provisional ballots, I think we structure the process to treat the voters on election day in the same sort of way that anybody else that registers before election day goes through.”

DFL opponents of the bill, including Governor Dayton, have said it’s a solution looking for a problem. Dayton wouldn’t completely rule out vetoing a photo ID but expressed skepticism about the claims of voter fraud in Minnesota.

“So if we could fine tune that and make it even better to assure voters as we must that every vote is counted and counted properly, then I’m all in favor of that,” Dayton said. “But to just cast aspersions on the system and try to do some drastic overhaul runs the risk of A: being a lot more expensive, and B: just making the situation worse, not better.”

Dayton says he’d be willing to create a panel to study the issue.

  • Bill

    There’s nothing wrong with providing reasonable identification to ensure you are a legal and registered voter in the State. Anyone who squawks at this legislation is trying to hide something, and don’t even go there that this is in conflict with a voter tax. No one is going to buy that argument.

  • http://www.mnprogressiveproject.com Joe Bodell

    So if these voter IDs are free, who pays the cost of designing, manufacturing, and distributing them? Who pays for the cost of identifying all the eligible voters who require one? If a single eligible voter is left out, the voter ID system has failed us all, so you’d better make sure it’s an accurate count, and that will take time, and time costs money.

    So who pays for it? The answer is that we all do — through tax collections. Tax revenues used to ensure voting rights sounds an awful lot like a poll tax to me, whether it’s assessed at the polling places or ahead of time in order to put together this bogus voter ID system.

    Even leaving aside the fact that the GOP legislative majorities are saying (out one side of their mouths) that they’re trying to close a $6 billion budget deficit, and (out the other side) calling for new spending for this base-inspiring voter ID proposal…How many documented cases of fraudulent votes being cast have been identified in the past two cycles? How many were identified and solidly documented by nonpartisan sources in the 2008 Senate recount, which saw unprecedented scrutiny of Minnesota’s existing electoral system?

    The answer: virtually none. This is still a solution in search of a problem.

  • Josh
  • Pete

    Which version of the bill passed, HF089 or HF0210? HF0210 removes voting rights for all people under guardianship even if no court has found them mentally incompetent, i.e. parapalegics, says all challenged voters need to cast provisional ballots and prove who they are later even if they have valid IDs, required all absentee voters to have driver’s licenses or state IDs and social security numbers, prevented health care workers from assisting disabled voters such as my 98 year great grandmother (assuming she could travel to the DMV to get her free ID card, since she doesn’t have the required drivers license or state ID number to absentee vote), and mandated use of an electronic polling roster which would be impossible to implement at the warming house where I’m an election judge since it doesn’t have a phone line or broadband. Neither version appropriated any money, but it cost Missouri over $18,000,000.00 to give out free IDs alone, not including the new polling place roster, so there goes 5% of the budget savings the Republicans just passed. Both bills also do nothing to stop felons from voting, which is 100% of the 38 actual voter fraud convictions that occured in 2008.

    I think the media is focusing too much on the Voter ID fact, and not on the other issues in the bills. I think they should also be asking the Republicans about the research they did before writing this bill, what kinds of fraud they hope to stop with it, and how many cases of that fraud have occured. I’ve called several of the authors of this bill and written many e-mails, but none of them were willing to respond except for Rep. Diane Anderson (R-Eagan) who refused to answer any questions. If you can’t answer a question like “Why did you write this bill?” maybe you should not have written it. I think they don’t want to have to answer why it is okay to strip money away from Child Protection Services and use it to stop disabled and elderly voters from voting.

  • http://gustavus.edu/+max/ Max Hailperin

    Pete- The bill that passed from the committee today (and is headed for another committee) was HF210; the committee ran substantially overtime without getting to HF89 and plans to address that bill tomorrow. However, the version of HF210 that was approved was after some amendments, including one that changed the language regarding guardianship. This amendment was a rare exception to the largely 9-6 votes. It was passed unanimously, presumably as a direct result of the very effective testimony offered by a woman under guardianship. I certainly hope that MPR will provide some coverage to the role she played in making the bill less bad. As you remark, this is a complex bill that cannot be reduced to a simple “Photo ID” storyline. (Disclaimer: I didn’t take notes on the amendment, so my reporting is from memory.)

  • http://gustavus.edu/+max/ Max Hailperin

    To update my 3:56 comment, I’ve now reviewed the audio recording of today’s meeting and can add the name of the woman who so eloquently spoke for those under guardianship: Roberta Blomster. I also confirmed my report about the guardianship-related amendment being passed unanimously. Rep. Hornstein introduced this amendment, designated A5. In addition to preserving the status quo with regard to guardianship, it also does the same with regard to allowing voters who require assistance to choose for themselves who will assist them.

  • http://www.minnesotacentral.blogspot.com Minnesota Central

    OK, I am going to try to control my anger at this issue … but it’s tough.

    Bill, let me give you seven concerns :

    I look down the road … pass the Voter ID and the first thing that will happen is to target precincts that will likely support your opponent … then challenge the accuracy of the ID … whether or not it is a valid challenge (remember the challenged ballots during the 2008 Senate Recount … where every squiggle resulted in a challenge — can you hear it now … jeez, looks like you’ve put on some pounds … is that you without the beard … take off your cap so I can see your full face – so what if the voters get angry, they weren’t going to vote for your candidate anyhow ) … the objective is to slow the process of voting … now, remember we vote in November … snow, cold, rain …. people standing in lines … parking becomes a problem … people give up even though they have valid IDs … they got kids to pick-up … dinner to make … or if you are in Bachmann’s district – a third job to go to.

    Second, I have voted at the same place for over 20 years … the guy that checks my name also passes the basket at Church … we see each other at the store … do I need to have my ID check … well, if my precinct is targeted it will be. And for the election officials to be doing their job, they will need to.

    Third, what about college students … they probably don’t update their driver’s license to reflect a campus address … and if you moved during the term, you could have changed precincts … you’re rejected. What about students whose parents live in another state and the student doesn’t own a car … they have no reason to get a Minnesota driver’s license yet may feel that Minnesota is their home and want to vote in the Minnesota elections … nope, you’re rejected.

    Fourth, what about seniors … who may no longer have an active driver’s license … why renew when you don’t drive … you’re rejected.

    Fifth, what if you’ve had your license’s suspended ? If the courts take away your license to drive, doesn’t mean they take away your right to vote.

    Sixth, what if my driver’s license has lapsed … how many of us forget to get it renewed on time (good thing there is a grace period) … your license is not valid … no vote.

    Seventh, what about medical situations … for example, poor vision (visual acuity of 20/100 or more will deny you a driver’s license) … plus the number of people that have physical reasons why they don’t drive … but no driver’s license means no vote.

    Oh sure, Minnesota has State Identification cards but you cannot get one if you have a driver’s license. And if you don’t have reasons to have a State ID card, why would you apply for one. Plus there is a fee (that the legislation may require by provided free if it is to be used for voting … great investment of state funds … we must be in surplus mode).

    This is a “solution” for a problem that has not been proven to exist.

    During the 2008 US Senate recount, it was proven that a number of people falsified absentee ballot forms … many times it was a “helpful” parent. This won’t change that.

    Also, GOPers don’t want to acknowledge Coleman’s attorney Joe Friedberg’s comment during the MN-Supreme Court oral arguments “that there is no evidence of fraud or misconduct”. Yet, all we hear about is ACORN and Ritchie stole the election. (Side comment : Even Coleman now admits that he lost the election when he voted for TARP … which is why 63,203 McCain supporters did not vote for him.)

    Why do Republicans want to burden county election officials with producing more State ID cards and cause more delays in the voting process ? Wouldn’t every one of these voters who offered questionable IDs have to be given a provincial ballot while they defend their identity (your driver’s license has lapsed, you get a new license, now your vote counts) … do they really want a delay in determining elections and certifying winners … Tim Pawlenty could still be governor today if there were provisional ballots being questioned. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard the MN Supreme Court is going to hear another lawsuit involving the Coleman-Franken contest on March 1, 2011 … that’s right, next month the Court will hear another lawsuit on that election.

    Instead of voter ID, Minnesota should change the laws to allow no-excuse early voting.

    Lastly, after hearing of this effort, one Bush / McCain voter told me that they are taking away her right to vote … that’s right, she does not have an ID.

  • George Claseman

    Although I no longer live or practice in Minnesota, I do maintain my membership in the Minnesota and Hennepin County Bar Associations and welcome information about what is of interest to the profession.

    What I have not heard mentioned is the question of citizenship being a requirement to vote. A simple driver’s license has not been sufficient to prove citizenship.

    Although that may not be a significant problem in Minnesota, it is here in Nevada where it is estimated that ten percent of the residents of Clark County (Las Vegas) are illegal immigrants.