Minnesota voters on Tuesday turned back a proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for voting, a measure that had once been seen as a likely winner. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment had 1,344,758 “yes” votes, or 46 percent. That was short of the 50 percent or greater total necessary for passage. “No” votes totaled 1,522,860, or 52 percent, with blank ballots – which count as “no” votes” – totaling 41,785, or 1 percent. The Minnesota vote went against a trend in other states to approve voter ID.
Opponents had said voter fraud is minimal to non-existent, and said the constitutional amendment would cost millions of dollars, but supporters said that democracy demands fair elections. To ensure fairness, they said, Minnesotans must submit photo identification before voting.
Debate on the issue is occurring in many states, with the National Conference of State Legislatures reporting a dozen states have voter photo ID requirements.
Some voter ID laws are under court review, including one in Wisconsin. Observers said they expected the Minnesota constitutional amendment also to face legal action if voters approved it.
The defeat of the photo ID requirement was surprising, with the proposal drawing strong support in polls for months. The amendment was put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Those same Republicans also lost their House and Senate majorities on Tuesday.