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Photo-ID voting in Minnesota: not precisely partisan

State Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) was crowing today about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision upholding state photo-ID requirements to vote.

Emmer is the co-author of a House proposal to mandate photo ID in Minnesota elections; it failed 70-59 three weeks ago. He says it won’t come up again this session unless there’s an election-related bill to attach it to.

The issue has been partisan at the state and national level; Republicans say photo-ID requirements are a common-sense way to deter voter fraud; Democrats say it’s a voter-suppression hurdle for voters who don’t currently have a photo ID, such as the poor and the elderly.

What’s interesting, though, is that when Emmer tried to amend a Senate elections bill April 8 to include photo ID, 10 House DFLers backed him.  

They were Dave Olin (Thief River Falls), Mary Ellen Otremba (Long Prairie), Lyle Koenen (Clara City), Robin Brown (Austin), Jeanne Poppe (Austin), Shelley Madore (Apple Valley), Denise Dittrich (Champlin), Bev Scalze (Little Canada), Julie Bunn (Lake Elmo) and Marsha Swails (Woodbury).

Why’d the DFLers swing his way? “It’s an 80 percent issue,” Emmer says. “Eighty percent of the public says ‘why not show a driver’s license to vote when you have to do it to cash a check and other mundane things?’ It’s a common-sense thing.”

Brown, Madore, Bunn and Swails are first-termers who won with 51.1 percent of the vote or less.

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