Republicans in the Minnesota House passed a proposed voter ID constitutional amendment early this morning on a 72 to 62 party line vote, after nine hours of debate.
If the Senate follows suit, the question will appear on the statewide ballot in November. Supporters of the measure want to require all Minnesotans to show photo identification in order to vote. Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said the amendment is a chance for the people to govern when they go to the polls.
“And how appropriate it is that on Election Day this year they would have the opportunity to add to our Minnesota constitution additional language that will help increase their public confidence in our system and increase the integrity of our election system,” Kiffmeyer said.
House Democrats claim the requirement could disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters, including senior citizens, college students and military personnel. They also argue that the state constitution should not be used for partisan policy.
Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, warned Republicans it would lead to even more amendments in the future.
“So if there’s a popular issue that plays well in certain political circles and the public seems to like, based on public opinion polls, why no go for it?,” Simon asked. “Why not just slap it into the constitution, write in permanent ink, make it forever, and impose our will on future generations?”
Republicans introduced the proposed amendment shortly after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a GOP-backed voter ID bill last session. The governor has no say in whether constitutional amendments get on the ballot. Constitutional amendment proposals only need majority votes in the House and Senate.