The Minnesota Senate is set to vote on a measure that would ask voters to change the state constitution to require people to show photo identification to vote. The Senate Rules Committee approved the measure Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the Minnesota House passed the bill. Republicans say it will improve the state’s election system but Democrats worry that it could disenfranchise thousands of people. The Senate Rules Committee hearing was less contentious than a nine-hour debate that took place Tuesday in the House. But those making the arguments were just as divided over the issue.
Republican supporters like state Sen. Geoff Michel of Edina say people should have to prove who they are before they can vote. Michel argued during the Rules Committee meeting that requiring photo identification would improve the state’s election system. “If we are going to have close elections then we are going to feel confident about those results,” he said.
Democrats who oppose the measure, among them state Sen. Dick Cohen of St. Paul, say authorities have recorded few if any cases of voter fraud cited as a rationale for the voter ID requirement. Cohen argued that the people who don’t have the proper paperwork will greatly outnumber the instances of voter fraud. “We’re passing a constitutional amendment that’s going to disenfranchise thousands and thousands of people so somebody can feel confident? Unbelievable,” he said.