A host of Republican Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Warren Limmer, member of leadership Ted Lillie and Environment Chairman Bill Ingebrigtsen, have introduced a bill to implement a Voter ID requirement by way of constitutional amendment. A total of 10 senators have signed on to two versions of the bill, SF 1577 and SF 1578, that would bypass Gov. Mark Dayton’s threatened veto and instead put the controversial elections reform measure before voters this fall. The bills will be formally introduced Thursday in the Senate. Voter ID laws have long been a goal of Republicans in Minnesota and around the country, as opponents say they help reduce fraud and protect election integrity. Opponents — mostly Democrats — say they add unnecessary burdens to voting and target typically Democrat-friendly constituencies such as college students, the elderly and minority populations.
Dayton vetoed a Voter ID last session, and a number of Republicans in return vowed to pursue the Voter ID law in the 2012 session via constitutional amendment, which does not require any action from the governor and instead can pass onto the ballot with a simple majority vote in each chamber. No companion measures have been introduced in the House this session, but two were introduced in May of last year.
Dayton has already this week said he opposes any elections law changes passed on a partisan basis, as is likely given widespread DFL opposition to the measure. But recent polls have shown more public support for the measure than opposition, and proponents are confident any constitutional amendment would be approved by voters this fall.