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Photo ID gets new life as proposed constitutional amendment

Gov.

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the controversial Voter ID bill at the end of the session last month, but in testimony to the adage that nothing is ever really dead at the Legislature, two Republican lawmakers said today that they’ll resurrect the idea next year: as a proposed amendment to the state Constitution.

Much like the gay marriage ban, which wouldn’t survive Dayton’s veto pen, Republicans hope to take another issue straight to the voters.

State Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, today introduced the legislation to put the question on the November 2012 ballot. The Legislature will deal with the bill next year.

They said polling shows 75 percent or more of Minnesotans approve the requirement of showing a photo ID to vote. Dayton vetoed the earlier bill, saying there was no evidence of massive fraud and that the measure would be very costly. Advocates for the poor and elderly said those groups often do not have driver’s licenses or other state ID and would be disenfranchised.

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Said Newman:

“Public trust and confidence in our election system are critical components to the functioning of our representative republic. Through his recent veto, Governor Dayton rejected measures to improve the integrity, validity and fairness of our elections. As Minnesotans, we are very proud of our nation-leading voter turnout and our ability to encourage active participation in the public discourse. We should include similar efforts to maintain and protect the integrity of the process, and now Minnesotans will be able to make that decision.”

Said Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state said:

“I am extremely disappointed that Governor Dayton vetoed Photo Identification. The legislation has overwhelming public support especially among our younger voters and women. Clearly this is what Minnesota wants. Minnesota voters want to have confidence in the process and the result including integrity with the access.”

DFL State Rep. Ryan Winkler said he was disappointed that Republican lawmakers would be worrying about voter ID when the budget crisis remains unresolved.

“During session GOP leadership said they would focus on the budget then did the exact opposite and the result was failure. It appears history is already repeating itself.

“The GOP continues to fixate on divisive constitutional amendments while offering no serious compromise to get a balanced budget for Minnesotans. And just like the anti-marriage amendment, they want to change our state’s constitution just to restrict basic rights of Minnesotans. This helps not one Minnesota family. Worse, it is a counterproductive distraction to resolving our budget deficit when time is of the essence.”