The “Show Me State” of Missouri has a lot to show Minnesota about the travails of trying to require voters to show a photo ID before casting ballots. Short version: It won’t be easy. Six years after the law first passed in Missouri, the state’s voter-friendly courts have kept photo ID and related election-law changes off the books and even off the ballot. Minnesota advocates on both sides have taken notice. “It does show a path to success,” said Mike Dean of Common Cause Minnesota, which opposes the election law changes and hopes to duplicate Missouri’s record of blocking them in court. “The Missouri legislature really screwed up,” responds Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority, which supports the photo ID requirements. “The Minnesota Legislature didn’t make the same mistake.”
The two states are on a parallel path. Both have Republican-controlled legislatures that support the photo ID requirements and Democratic governors who oppose such changes. Both have sought to skirt the governor’s veto — and court opposition — by offering photo ID to voters as a proposed constitutional amendment. Both states have faced similar legal challenges to their amendment language from anti-photo ID organizations.
What Minnesota learns from Missouri this year is an important step in the national debate over the nation’s election systems. Like much of the country, the two states are sharply divided on the prevalence of voting fraud and the need for strict identification laws, even if some voters are inconvenienced or prevented from casting ballots at all.