Today, the Minnesota Senate approved a broadly popular bill that would require Minnesotans to present valid photo identification for in-person, absentee, and mail-in voting. The bill also establishes a new voter identification card that would be available free of charge to individuals who lack proper identification and cannot afford it. The bill would make Minnesota the 37th state to require some form of identification to vote.
“Voter ID laws allow us an opportunity to protect against fraud, safeguard our elections, and ensure the value of each Minnesotan’s vote,” Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (East Gull Lake) said. “The legislation passed today preserves our election integrity without threatening anyone’s ability to vote. In fact, the bill ensures that those who want to vote will have access to identification without any additional hurdles. There is absolutely zero excuse for why we shouldn’t get this done.”
Voter ID is widely popular throughout the United States. A recent Rasmussen survey found the issue garners 75% support, while the statistical website 538 recently published a round-up of several polls highlighting the issue’s popularity. In Minnesota, the nonpartisan think tank Center of the American Experiment recently found voter ID enjoys 69% support.
The bill guarantees that not a single legal voter would be disenfranchised by the new requirement. Individuals unable to provide valid proof of identity or residence would be able to cast a provisional ballot, affording the voter a period to prove their identity. If a voter then exhausts all options and is still unable to provide documentation, that voter would be allowed to sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury affirming they are a legal voter and would then have their ballot counted. Same-day voter registration would also remain intact.
In the 2008 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Crawford v. Marion County, the Court held that an Indiana law requiring a photo ID to vote did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the Court held there are “legitimate state interests” in voting laws requiring photo ID, including deterring, detecting, and preventing voter fraud, improving and modernizing election procedures, and safeguarding voter confidence in elections. Finally, the Court also held that federal law authorizes states to use a photo identification requirement to determine an individual’s eligibility to vote.