GOP Voter ID Measure Passes First Capitol Hurdle
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — A state House committee has given the first stamp of approval to a Republican proposal that would require all Minnesotans to present a photo ID in order to vote.
The House Government Operations and Elections Committee approved the measure on a 9-6 vote with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.
Backers of the bill say requiring a picture ID would cut down on voter fraud and make the voting process more efficient. Critics say fraud is not a widespread problem in Minnesota elections and that the new requirement would be expensive and hard to administer.
“Those who steal don’t just stand there and say, ‘Hey! Here I am! I’m lying. This is not who I really am!’ You know the issue of the voter ID is to deter and to prove that,” said Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake.
WCCO’s Chad Hartman Interviews Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky Who Opposed Voter ID
The bill has a strong shot of getting through the Republican-controlled Legislature, but Gov. Mark Dayton says he believes it could create more problems than it solves. Dayton stopped short of a veto threat but says he’d prefer an independent commission study problems with election administration and suggest fixes.
The bill also eliminates Minnesota’s long-standing tradition of “vouching” for unregistered voters.
Supporters say it’s unworkable because it assumes everyone is honest.
“The danger of vouching is mainly that it is a faith-based system. They just trust you at face value that you are being honest that day,” Kiffmeyer said.
Jackie Emmer, the wife of failed-governor candidate Tom Emmer, was at the hearing — an exclamation point to Republican claims of widespread election fraud.
But an animated DFL Secretary of State said fraud is almost non-existant in Minnesota, challenging critics to prove it.
“People say to me, ‘We have to have photo ID because no one trusts our elections system. And I look around the room and I say, ’80 percent of you voted,’” Ritchie said.
In fact, Minnesota’s 80-percent voter turnout is No. 1 in the nation. No. 2 is Wisconsin.
Or, as the Secretary of State said, we can’t beat ‘em in football, but we can beat them in voting.
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