ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Voters will decide in November whether government-issued photo identification should be required when voting in Minnesota, after lawmakers approved the ballot measure Wednesday and ended a years-long dispute.

Republicans pushed though the proposal despite uniform opposition from Democrats, who argue that requiring voters to show photo ID would hinder students, the poor and elderly residents. But supporters say the requirement would help build integrity in the voting process in Minnesota, where a handful of major extremely close elections in recent years.

The Senate approved the measure Wednesday afternoon on a 35-29 vote, with only one Republican voting against it, following a 72-57 vote in the House shortly after midnight. Lawmakers had been fighting over the issue for at least five years.

Gov. Mark Dayton cannot veto proposed constitutional amendments, which need only majority support from the Legislature to get on the ballot, but the governor said Wednesday that he would campaign against it.

The amendment will ask: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”

Dayton, a Democrat, vetoed legislation last year that would have made the ID requirement state law, which prompted Republicans to pursue the constitutional amendment. Advocacy groups fought back, saying it would make it harder to vote for poor, elderly or disabled residents, students, and others who are less likely to have IDs or who would be unduly burdened to get an ID.

Now, the issue is with voters — and activists on both sides are already preparing campaigns.

Amendment opponents see fundraising and organizing as an uphill climb, noting that the photo ID requirement has registered strong support in polls. Also, a more prominent amendment on the November ballot to ban gay marriage will likely generate more heat and potentially drain fundraising resources.

Likely leaders of “vote no” campaigns said the groups would probably focus on fears of voter suppression, and argue that such an amendment would end a popular feature in Minnesota elections: same-day voter registration. They argue that a same-day registrant without a photo ID would have to cast a provisional ballot that might only be counted if the voter returns to prove his or her identity.

“We see the polling numbers and we know that there’s a lot of people whose minds we need to change on this issue,” said Laura Frederick-Wang, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the League of Women Voters. “Once they’re able to understand what the different consequences are we’re able to change peoples’ minds on it.”

Greta Bergstrom, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota, said the progressive advocacy group would help lead a statewide coalition of nonprofit, labor and senior groups to hold local events and advertise that the amendment would “make it harder to vote.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota has registered a state ballot committee called Vote No 2012, intended to fund the group’s effort to defeat both the voter ID and gay marriage amendments. Executive Director Chuck Samuelson said that while arguments are already crystallized on both sides of the gay marriage debate, the political landscape for voter ID is still taking shape.

“We didn’t get into the conversation on this voting amendment until relatively recently,” Samuelson said. “This has been a one-sided conversation for a very long time.”

He said the group would ask its 20,000 members and donors in the state to initiate conversations about voter disenfranchisement. He said a personal approach is needed because large-scale events such as rallies “just aren’t going to be effective on a fairly complicated issue.”

Frederick-Wang said opponents have been galvanized by recent court defeats of voter ID requirements in other states such as Wisconsin, but she predicted fundraising would be “an uphill battle.”

Supporters of the amendment see an easier path.

“It’s a pretty easy sell really,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, a conservative group that’s backing both the photo ID and gay marriage amendments.

“The primary mission would be to counter the misinformation that’s coming from opposition to the bill. The point that we’re going to try to get across is that voter ID is just common sense,” he said.

McGrath said his group is planning for a potential rally and speaking events, along with lawn signs, bumper stickers, and television and radio advertising. But he said the fight over voter ID won’t come close to consuming their resources.

“I don’t think it’ll be nearly as expensive as the marriage amendment,” McGrath said. “We’re not going to have to spend a lot of money to keep people of the opinion that they already have.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Dayton released this statement on the proposed constitutional amendment:

“This is a partisan amendment based on a false premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota. Our election system is the best in the nation. We have the highest voter turnout year after year and under intense, bipartisan scrutiny, the recent statewide recounts have highlighted how reliable the results are. Much of the strength of the system derives from over 150 years of bipartisan work and its federated nature – the 87 county auditors, hundreds of municipal clerks, and 30,000 volunteer election judges who administer Minnesota’s elections and ensure they are free and fair.

“Republicans in the legislature had two years to negotiate bipartisan reforms to election law, and it is disappointing that their failure to do so has led to an unnecessary constitutional amendment that would make it harder for law abiding citizens, including tens of thousands of seniors, service members, and students, to exercise their right to vote. I cannot support a constitutional amendment that is pushed through the legislative process by only one political party – and neither should Minnesotans if they see it on the ballot this fall.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (39)
  1. Geezer says:

    Is that a picture of ACORN???

  2. politicianSUX says:

    calling people names really makes you look credible (NOT) Elwood. We all know Kevin likes to incite people, look past the words and get his message. If you read WCC0 enough you will know that picture was purposely choosen to incite people.

  3. Geezer says:

    This common sense .you need an ID for everything else?Oh wait the illegals can’t vote dems in that way to support their free loading life styles

    1. Let's Be Real says:

      Illegals are NOT voting. The best way for them to stay in the US is to NOT call attention to themselves. Voting and getting on voter registration lists is NOT a good way to do that. These lists can be scrutinized and checked if there are any questions in an election – especially if there is a recount. Illegals do NOT want to be on any such list.

  4. Taxpayer says:

    This should be a no brainer.

  5. gene hodel says:

    Some people gave their lives, so we have an opportunity to vote,and some people are so lazy they don’t want to make the effort to get an ID to vote.
    I understand that there will be no cost to get the ID, so why not do the right thing
    and help reduce voter cheating.

  6. G Dog says:

    No cost. You can’t be serious. How can there be no cost? Are the ID’s going to fall from the sky?

    Welcome to the 21st century poll tax – paid for by every taxpayer.

  7. j speedbag64 says:

    instead of throwing my vote in a trashcan i think i’ll just keep it………

  8. maxey says:

    A constitution is not a rough draft, to be amended when one party or the other gets a wild hair.

    1. politicianSUX says:

      Maxey, excellent point except the democrats have controlled Minnesota for 32 years. In those 32 years they have bought every vote they can from unions with contracts and “prevailing wage.” They have bought every vote they can from the “Native Americans” by blocking all forms of competing gambling and they have bought every poor vote they can with free money, housing and food. I agree with you wholeheartedly, but what is the alternative to level the playing field and make this a state that treats everyone the same, not just those that are currently in power. You give us a better idea that can be implemented and I will vote against the Voter ID.

  9. Reasonable says:

    While solving the “problem” of illegal voting (show me a conviction by the way…) it’s just fine to add to the real problem of state govt spending by providing free voter ID to those that don’t have a qualifying ID.


  10. truthOutlaw says:

    I see let the ones doing the fraud cast votes against this bill. Thats Government working for the people?

  11. Mike says:

    @ Pat….

    Your statement is full of misconceptions

    Let me make it simple for you. Democrats support SOCIAL progams (not Values) that help low to no income Minnesotans. Democrats SOCIAL programs ONLY support the poor. For example, middle class Minnesotans have to pay for a FULL ride to attend a LIBERAL arts college.

    Secondly, if you were to “gut” all the bank accounts of all the weathly US citizens, we would still have a DEBT, in other words, the US GOVT would have to increase taxes on the middle class as well, no ifs ands or butts.

    BTW… you talk about the polls, I’ve seen St. Cloud State students “Vouch” for their friends, because they don’t have a driver’s license. REALLY?! I won’t go into who their friends are, but it’s easy to guess!!

  12. G Dog says:

    When my Republican representative and/or Senator comes to my door campaigning this fall, I’m asking for a photo ID, a birth certificate (long form), letter of introduction from a judge, fingerprint record, DNA verification, high school and college transcript, honorable discharge from the US Armed Forces and anything else I can think of.

    1. Tommy Solo says:

      When someone comes into the store I work at to buy liquor OR cigarettes and doesn’t have state I.D. I will ask them to go get a friend to vouch for them or just bring in a current utility bill then I will believe they are who they say they are. Duh!! Get a fricken clue!!!

      1. Yeller says:

        There a money motive to sell someone liquor and smokes. Get a fricken clue!!!

        For voting, you don’t care which party they voter for just that they vote and the state has the highest turnout in the nation. It would be great if 90 percent or more would vote because people have died for this right. Too many don’t give a damn or voting is just too difficult to do.

  13. PJO says:

    I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is with needing an I.D. to vote, you need an I.D. to do 99% of anything anyways.

    1. elcidr says:

      It is not a big deal to get an ID. The big deal is that there will no longer be absentee ballots and for me who am a shut-in will no longer be able to vote. This amendment effectively takes away my right to vote and yes, I am 73.

  14. Melody says:

    well said and thank you

  15. Pat says:

    Wow! I saw a fried egg once that thought better than this dufus.

    1. Dan says:

      Pat, so what you’re saying is,we should just take everyone’s word for who they are? EVERYONE who goes and votes are who they say they are? So by your reasoning, there should be no ID required to buy liquor at a liquor store or a bar.? I suppose you think EVERYONE who tries to buy booze is 21 or older. Should we just take their word for it?.. Rediculous! Should banks not require ID to withdraw money from an account? If that’s the case, where do you bank, because my name is Pat(whatever your last name is) I personally am glad when my bank asks for ID. I feel secure in knowing they are not going to let someone withdraw my money without my ID!! So I ask, why not require an ID to vote? It’s common sense. It will eliminate voter fraud.

      1. Citizen says:

        @Dan. We all prove who we are when we register to vote–THEN when we do vote, we sign the line on the roster of registered voters. In order to be registered, you already prove who you are in a variety of ways. It is blatantly OBVIOUS to me that the conservatives who are pro photo ID have no realization of how voters are registered, and have no knowledge of that paperwork, how it is saved, and where it goes. Why don’t you and your ilk go to election judge training this summer, and work the polls, and get an education!

        1. Dan says:

          @Citizen… Yea right, and no one could go in there and sign a name that is not theirs. Forgery and fraud, that’s unheard of, They don’t exactly carefully compare your signature to one that is on file. You scribble a signature on a line and they give you a ballot. I’ve been voting for many years and most of the time it’s volunteers who are working at the voting places. Not exactly high security and NO ONE comparing signatures or ensuring that everyone is who they SAY they are. I don’t understand why anyone would be against showing an ID. It’s common sense. It will eliminate any question of voter fraud. You are required to have an ID to go into a bar or buy liquor at a liquor store, or cash a check, or withdraw money, or drive. What’s the big deal?! Go get a friggen ID. And yes, I AM aware of how voter registration works. I VOTE and I AM college educated!! With a degree and a job!!

      2. CITIZEN says:

        @Dan. We all prove who we are when we register to vote–THEN when we do vote, we sign the line on the roster of registered voters. In order to be registered, you already prove who you are in a variety of ways. Of course there is absolutely nothing in place to verify the person signing on the roster line is the same person who registered. Therefore it is blatantly OBVIOUS to that a photo ID is needed to verify the person who just sign a name on the roster is who they say they are.

        1. what says:

          plus “vouching for someone” is not a valid form of proof

        2. morgan says:

          Ok, I just printed a registration form. That form did not ask me who I was. The only info that was asked to verify who I am is my last 4 digits of my SS# or my DL#.

          That alone is acceptable evidence that proves who I say I am? SS#’s and DL#’s can be looked up on the internet using the right tools. Boom, I just made 10 registration forms with 10 different people all with my version of their signature. Looks like there will be alot of votes for this bill come November.

  16. elcidr says:

    How about me? I am on oxygen 24/7 and I cannot get to the polls to vote. How is my right to vote protected as there will be no more absentee ballots? I have a right to vote as well.

    1. King says:

      Check the following link about absentee ballots:

      Question #5 on the application for an Absentee Ballot

      mark all boxes that apply:
      I have a MN issued driver’ license or MN ID card number:
      I have a Social Security Number. The last four digits are: XXX-XX-
      I do not have a MN issued Driver’ License, MN-issued ID card or a Social Security Number
      Your identification number will be compared to the one on your absentee ballot envelope

    2. what says:

      absentee ballots are not going away

  17. Fran says:

    Just report to Democrat headquarters and get a handful of IDs before you go a voting.

  18. Don S. says:

    Now if we can just a recall election for the union-stoolie Daytun MN might get back on the right track.

    1. Frick says:

      Well at least Gay-tun can’t get married after November!

    2. Yeller says:

      Then, get in the streets and start your recall. You have legal rights to recall Dayton. Stop typing and get people to sign your petition.

  19. Pull The Lever, It's Over! says:

    Voter ID won’t stop the GOPee from tampering with voting machine as alleged in Florida, and Ohio.

  20. Sgt says:

    I always thought you needed a ID to vote.

  21. Tom says:

    The conservatives are giving themselves a pat on the back for solving a problem that only existed in their delusional minds. If Coleman and Emmer would have won their elections the conservatives would not be complaining. So apparently the conservatives disagee with the State Supreme Court when the court ruled 7 – 0 in both cases they found no evidence of voter fraud. So the conservattives are telling the the court we believe that their is a problem because we lost two close elections.

  22. Herman Cain says:

    We live in such a dictatorship these days. My word and signature was always good enough to vote too. Forced to wear seat belts. We all know their going to outlaw sugar soon.. Let people live. Give me Liberty!

    Where is Herman Cain?

  23. Johnny says:

    How do the repubs think this is going to pass? If all the homeless, illegal aliens and college students who are able to vote by vouching from a friend, do you really think this is going to pass? HA HA HA. Lets focus on fireworks. HA HA. If this doesnt pass can you say lawsuit? I would be surprised if this even goes to a vote. Have you ever heard of the Constitution? Jim Crow.

  24. Kevin says:

    From the picture…..I guess white people dont vote……they must all be working…..!!!!!

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