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Esme’s Blog: Voter ID and MN’s Record Turnouts

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the Minnesota Senate approved a voter ID bill, critics expressed concerns about the unintended consequences.

What about minority voters, what about the elderly, what about students who have just moved to the state or from different cities to be near campuses? The consequence that could be the most striking is Minnesota’s record of leading the nation in voter turnout.

In 2008, Minnesota had the highest voter turnout in the nation with 77.8 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. An estimated 500,000 people registered that day. Presumably, many of those same day registrants had IDs that did not reflect their current addresses.

Under the voter ID bill that was passed by the Senate, those people without IDs could cast provisional ballots and then would have to make a second trip to election officials either that day or later to show the proper ID. The provisional ballot, at minimum, would add a layer of bureaucracy and would undoubtedly create delays in obtaining final vote results.

There are a number of steps that still have to take place for voter ID to become law. The Minnesota House and Senate must reconcile the differences in their bills. Once on the ballot, voters must approve the measure.

If this does in fact become state law, one consequence would almost certainly be fewer same day registrations. That in turn would have to affect Minnesota’s history of delivering record voter turnouts.

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