Yesterday, the Minnesota Senate approved a bill requiring Minnesotans to present a 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.
“There is a reason that voter ID is so overwhelmingly popular: it is a common-sense, easy way to restore credibility, integrity, and security in the elections process,” said Senator Gary Dahms (R – Redwood Falls). “Millions of Americans are now lacking trust in our system. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways we can restore their faith and protect the rights of all legal voters.”
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 popularity of the issue. In Minnesota, the nonpartisan think tank Center of the American Experiment recently found voter ID enjoys 69% support.
The Senate’s bill guarantees that no 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 time 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.
Senator Dahms is in his fourth term representing Senate District 16 which includes communities in Brown, Lac qui Parle, Lyon, Redwood, Renville, and Yellow Medicine counties. He also serves as chair of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee and Vice Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee.