As a bill asking Minnesotans to amend the state constitution so voters would be required to show a photo ID began its way through the House on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unveiled an alternative they say would be faster, cheaper and less likely to disenfranchise voters. With an electronic “poll book,” eligible voters who have lost an ID or no longer carry one could come to the polling place and have their electronic information pulled up from state records, Ritchie said. He said about 84,000 Minnesota voters don’t carry photo ID, but in many cases, they would have photos in the state drivers’ database. For those who don’t, another ID could be scanned in or a photo could be taken at the polling place. “We would not be disenfranchising anybody and we would not be breaking the bank,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie and Dayton touted the bipartisan potential of their plan, but there were no GOP lawmakers at the pair’s news conference. Earlier, the House Government Operations and Elections Committee heard testimony on a bill from Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, that she’s sponsoring to put photo ID on the November ballot.
Kiffmeyer’s bill was passed by the committee and now heads to Ways and Means. A companion bill in the Senate has made it through three committees and sits in the Rules committee. The Senate may vote on the measure as early as next week. She said the poll book technology Ritchie is endorsing would be useful, but it would not replace the need for photo IDs. Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state, said the amendment “will protect everybody’s access to getting a ballot,” ensure integrity in the process and maintain Election Day registration.