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Minnesota’s Voter ID constitutional amendment advancing

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer

MinnPost photo by James Nord

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday about her Voter ID bill.

Voter ID proposals in the Minnesota House and Senate appear to be only one step away from reaching the floor in both chambers.

With little discussion Tuesday evening, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer’s version on an 18-12 party-line vote. The former secretary of state was one author of last session’s Voter ID bill that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed.

This year, she’s proposing a constitutional amendment, which would require voters to show a photo ID at the poll. The measure, which has been waylaid in Ways and Means since last year, breezed through its first committee hearing of this session last week.

“It’s very exciting to be back where I was at … the end of last year,” Kiffmeyer said after Tuesday’s hearing. “It’s like, ‘Wow, gee, you know, I got back to where I started,’ or something like that. So for me, it’s kind of exciting to get out of Ways and Means.”

Both Kiffmeyer and Sen. Scott Newman, the amendment’s Senate author, say the proposal is necessary to maintain Minnesota’s election integrity. The constitutional amendment approach bypasses the governor and would go directly on the November general election ballot for approval.

“I sincerely believe it’s going to go to the floor and, I would think, probably sooner rather than later,” Newman said on Tuesday. “Week, two weeks something like that.”

The House and Senate bills each face one more committee.

Newman’s bill has faced hours of public testimony – most of it negative – this session. Democrat lawmakers and other anti-Voter ID activists say the measure would disenfranchise many elderly, poor, disabled or student voters.

Kiffmeyer faced fewer questions at the Ways and Means hearing because no public testimony was taken. Several DFL lawmakers, however,  questioned how the measure would affect such at-risk voters as veterans and students at private colleges who don’t get state-issued IDs.

Kiffmeyer tried to answer questions as best she could but said most of the details would have to be figured out next session with detailed supporting legislation – the way a constitutional amendment often works.

DFL Rep. Bobby Jo Champion asked Kiffmeyer: “What can you say that is going to reassure people of color and others that this is not a new, disguised version of a poll tax in the year 2012?”

Kiffmeyer replied that the judicial system has vetted Voter ID, and “the courts have said it is not a poll tax.”

Voter ID measures have run into legal problems in some states.

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On Monday, for example, a second judge in Wisconsin permanently blocked that state’s Voter ID measure, which currently has at least four state or federal lawsuits leveled against it, from going into effect. The state attorney general there said he’ll appeal the decision.

Also on Monday, the Department of Justice blocked a Voter ID law from taking effect in Texas, just as it did in South Carolina last December.

Newman, who has been busy with other bills, said he was unaware of the status of the lawsuits or of Kiffmeyer’s bill in the House. Kiffmeyer, though, said the courts often rule in favor of Voter ID with time, even as activists continue to sue.

“It’s rather predictable,” she said. “They keep doing it, and the courts uphold it. Sometimes the lower courts will put a hold on it for a moment – being cautious – but eventually those questions get answered and it is upheld.”

Both Newman and Kiffmeyer use Indiana’s law, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld on its face, to prove their point. But the law is still susceptible to an “as applied” challenge if opponents of Photo ID can find cases where voters are seriously disenfranchised.

In Minnesota, efforts to find a compromise over Voter ID and avert the lawsuits have stalled.

Kiffmeyer recently rejected a compromise plan from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to use electronic poll books to verify voters’ identities.

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Comments (21)

Electronic poll books

Has Rep. Kiffmeyer ever specified why electronic poll books are not sufficient?

Well, I thought the answer was rather obvious

Electronic Poll Books are different (and obviously worse, in Representative Kiffmeyer's eyes) because it would disenfranchise far fewer constituencies that trend Democratic.

Solution w/o metrics is poor policy

Ritchie's offer of an electronic poll book should be adopted. With it, we can put to rest the argument about what % of voter fraud is occurring and take appropriate action. Still won't catch confused felons, but neither will the amendment. If you can't measure it, you don't fully understand the problem, and you can't know the value and costs of your fix.

The cases of fraud that the pro-ID people are trumpeting ARE BEING PROSECUTED. This would appear to show that voter fraudsters commit this crime at their peril, as it should be.

Reject this amendment.

The cliché applies

According to commenter Myles Spicer, responding to an earlier piece by Eric Black, “The catalyst for all this ID fuss was likely the 2008 election. As a reminder, there WERE 113 probably [sic] cases of ineligible voters (not necessarily fraud) -- out of 2.9 MILLION votes cast. This whole issue is again a solution in search of a problem.”

I wasn't in Minnesota in 2008, but my $10 calculator says that's 0.0000389%. I've no idea where to go to check Mr. Spicer's information, nor do I pretend to a definitive judgment regarding the veracity of Mr. Spicer himself, but the “fix” being proposed will cost millions, and potentially disenfranchises quite a few more than 113 voters.

The Minnesota Constitution is quite clear about who can vote in Article VII, Section 1: “Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct.” A photo ID won't fix residency issues, so the proposed amendment doesn't even address the one legitimate, but minuscule, concern that might be reasonably raised.

“Voter ID” as it’s currently being shepherded through the legislature seems to me a fraud, perpetrated by the ALEC crowd to suppress the votes of a lot of people who are unlikely to vote for knee-jerk reactionaries and theocrats. 113 votes of 2.9 million votes cast does *not* constitute a problem of such significance that it merits an amendment to the state constitution, much less the spending of millions of taxpayer dollars to address. As Mr. Spicer said, it's a solution in search of a problem.


The grotesque aspect of the supreme court's Indiana decision was they didn't require proof from the pro-photo ID side that there's a problem photo ID can address, but they demanded proof of disenfranchisement from opponents. Of course they didn't have proof when the law hadn't taken effect yet. They have it now. How many disenfranchised people is enough?

Let's see...

Who controls the current Supreme Court of the United States of America?
The people who brought us 'Citizens United', better known as 'Corporations United'.

We do have quite a few holes

We do have quite a few holes in our system that do need to be filled. I'd argue that many of the voter fraud problems are not provable when people say "show me the numbers" because with the fraud you cannot, and not surprisingly there are few if any people that come forward and say, "Yes, I committed voter fraud".

Way may not need voter ID, but I do think there is some reasonable need to tighten grips on the system. Same day registration should be looked at how easy it may be to go around that system, along with the vouching system that is currently in place to be eligible to vote.

But I don't believe a Voter ID is unnecessary by the MN constitution, given the requirements it's the voters responsibility to prove they are eligible and 18, and that is only something an ID can prove. It's not an unreasonable request, it's simply common sense. It is our responsibility to prove our eligibility, not the government or pollsters job to disprove. There are certain assumptions of responsibility all citizens must have for any organized society, and an ID is not an unreasonable one. Laziness or ignorance is no excuse.

There isn't wide spread voter fraud now, nor will there be tens of thousands of disenfranchised voters if the amendment is passed. But in very close elections, which we've had and seen nationwide, it can be a big deal.

The Brennan Center for Justice

estimates at 5 million the number of American voters who would be disenfranchised if this ALEC legislation is enacted nationwide.

It is pure hooey to pretend that its intention is anything but this disenfranchisement of the poor, elderly/disabled, people of color and students -- all of whom tend to vote for Democrats.

Exactly correct

This is simply an attempt by the republicans to keep control of the legislature. If they actually thought that they could win fairly, we would nothing about this issue. In addition the author of this nonsense is angry for losing her previous office - her attempt at "I'll show you.". A loser.

Exactly right

but they make such great servants. This is nothing but eliminating Democratic voters, and allowing corporations to rule through the right wing "'Supreme Court."

Voter ID

It is not an atttempt to stuff ballot boxes with Illegal alien votes and those who are no longer with the living..

What really is the reason not to have voter ID? Give some that are not run of the mill bull.

BOTTOM LINE: The liberals gain by not having ID, becuse they will run ilegals and dead people through the ballot system.
Re districting as CA has done and other states also.. It increases the Fed dollar dole to those states and hurts states who have ID and citizen count pretty corrrect...SO add 4 million ilegals to the state welfare rolls and medicare rolls it just goes on and on the dole packages and more votes in the congress and Ladies and Gents that is the real reason....Greed and power...



Tell us how requiring a person to get an ID to vote helps (what problem)?

If I search "fake ID Minnesota," the top hits are sites that promote fake IDs. And a quick search of the news with the same search criteria resulted in this hit:
A sample of the contents of that article: "...thousands of fake identification documents..."

A study done in 2010 showed that 18% of underage college students had fake IDs.

While searching for the number of votes cast by illegal immigrants, I could find no reputable source at all. Doubtless, legal immigrants vote--of course, they're allowed to get state IDs. And, once they're citizens, it's perfectly legal.

Yet, the best that those that support voter ID with is 113 felons who didn't know they couldn't vote, yet and ONE idiot of a woman who voted for her kid. None of those people would have been caught by showing their ID, and ID's are easy enough to fake, it seems. Where do you get the idea that "it would go a long ways in getting rid of voter fraud<<>!"

ID Reply

Talk about quality Identification!
I donot tend to beleive the article about 113 felons or any such..

A photo and finger print with a scaner can identify all people. But if you want fancy put a DNA chip in the thing. Or do retnal scans....
Question is why would one not want an ID, think I covered that pretty well...

Lets see and ID could
Identify who you are
Next of kin
Blood type
Organ donor
On and on
this info could be bar coded so it is not availabe without a scanner.

YEA to much info Big Brother,, well if you pay taxes they already know who you are..
Do you have a drivers licensess
DO yo have a voting Card Pay Property taxes
Have a telephone
Own anything that one pays taxes on.
Credit card
Do you register to vote how so

Like we are not known.

YEA Big Brother

I did not just mention ID but other things as to why many do not want them..

Please provide your sources

You wrote "The liberals gain by not having ID, becuse they will run ilegals and dead people through the ballot system.".

That's quite the accusation. Please provide the source of your documentation (preferably including supporting quotes) that backs up this claim.

amending the constitution

This strikes me as being nearly a frivolous amending of the constitution.
I do not approve of all these efforts to make changes to the constitution.

You Weren't Paying Attention

In the campaign in the fall of 2010Minnesota Republicans, from Tom Emmer on down, made it clear day after day that the Minnesota constitution was failing us miserably and that several amendments were in order.

Oh wait. I guess they didn't say ANYTHING like that at all during that fall. Of course, they didn't imagine they'd have legislative majorities that would have to work with Mark Dayton.

Distribution of 447 Billion US dollars base on US census

Why we need voter ID and clean up the Fraud.....The states with the most people ilegals or not; get the most money....What is wrong with this ? they also get more seats in Congress more votes to benefit who?

My two post should answer a lot of questions if they make the cut? It wil depend on who edits and or political leaning I will guess.

Facts in boht post so should if the article is looking for comments....and truth...


More as to why have ID with link to facts

It pays to harbor illegal's. But if they could vote who would they vote for?
But it has backfired on some states see CA prime example, of greed and over
indulgence in social programs they cannot afford even with fed help..
So how does CA get out of this quagmire; Bail out from the FED from us Tax payers?

YEA voter ID would help in cleaning this up/////one would think so if one reads the facts..

You ought to know . Greed and Power



Find out who and what the Brookings institution is.

Bet you cannot find 50 cases of "voter fraud" in this state over the last 10 years.
Give us a break. This is a concerted effoert to "fix" the elections. They can't hire "upset constituents" to storm the precints, and they have already tried the "tinker with the voting machine," ploy. We have had "hanging chad" disputes, that is old news now.
What strategy is left?
Isn't this the same Secretary of State who had some controversy a few years ago? How did she get re-elected to cause more trouble?
Oh, yeah, I guess we know.

Hey Wait a Minute

Is there a pattern here?
Is this a NATIONAL GOP/TP strategy?

Let me see in MN:

1. Voter ID bills,
2. Marriage Amendment,
3. Right to Work Bill,

What's NEXT "Personhood," "Ultrasound," and more tax cuts for the wealthy?

Hmmmm, let us wait and find out!!!

Two questions

I've been out of state for a week and I was wondering if the sponsors of the proposed amendment have provided any particulars about their proposal. I truly don't know the answer to this question--when Mary Kiffmeyer was Secretary of State, did she propose a Photo ID requirement? If not, what has changed in the intervening six years other than Republicans losing two recounts for statewide office?