Minnesota voters are steps away from seeing a photo identification constitutional amendment on the ballot. The full Senate passed the amendment Friday in a 36-30 vote after six hours of debate. The House passed the amendment Tuesday. The vote fell mostly along party lines. Every Republican except Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona voted for the amendment. Every Democrat voted against it. The measure centers around whether voters need to prove who they are when they cast a ballot. Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said he fears some people are voting illegally and that the proposed constitutional amendment would stop it. “I think we do have voter fraud in the United States and I think we have voter fraud in Minnesota,” said Newman. “It is my belief that when someone votes who should not be voting, it has the effect of neutralizing or canceling the vote of someone who has voted legally.”
But opponents — all of them Democrats — said those fears are overblown and that voter fraud is almost nonexistent. Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL- Columbia Heights, also argued that the measure wouldn’t stop those who aim to vote illegally. “Most of you have your photo ID and your driver’s license right here. Does that stop you from speeding? Does that stop you from maybe once in a while swerving in your lane?” said Goodwin. “That’s about the effect that this voter ID is going to have on catching any fraudulent votes.”
Democrats say the impact of the voter ID requirement will disenfranchise thousands of people. They say those who live in nursing homes, homeless people, college students and people who register on Election Day may have trouble voting. Sen. Dick Cohen of St. Paul said he’s worried that the amendment will put up barriers for people to vote. “For the first time in the years I’ve been in the state Senate, we’re seeing a regression, a regression, on a right held by somebody,” Cohen said.