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OPINION: Voter ID Amendment Now in Your Hands

Rep. Joe McDonald gives his update from the State Legislature, where the Minnesota House and Senate recently passed legislation to require photo identification at the polls.

We passed a couple of very important bills in the House [last] week. One pertains to photo ID for voters and the other is geared toward tax relief and job creation.

The former (H.F. 2738) allows Minnesotans to decide whether photo ID should be a requirement for voting. The Senate may tinker with the language when it hears the bill. As of now, the question on our ballots this November will read:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended effective December 1, 2013, to require that all in-person voters present an approved form of government-issued photographic identification at the time of voting; that those not voting in person provide government-issued proof of identity; that all voters be subject to substantially equivalent eligibility verification before a ballot is cast or counted; and that the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible individuals?”

Click here for a link to existing constitutional language pertaining to elective franchise.

We spent approximately nine hours discussing this issue on the House floor last week. Appropriate safeguards are in the bill to make sure every legal voter is provided their opportunity to participate in the process. In addition to the free IDs that will be provided to those who lack one, provisional ballots may be cast and verified at a later date. So, even if you lose your wallet on the way to the poll, you still can vote.

The Legislature passed a similar bill last year, but Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it. Surveys continually show Minnesotans support this initiative immensely, with 75 to 80 percent in favor. One governor should not be able to silence the will of an overwhelming majority, so we are taking this question directly to the voters.

The House also passed a bill last week called the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.F. 2337). The goal is to help our state be more competitive in the global marketplace. The taxes our businesses pay are among the highest in the United States and our package of improvements will help us improve on that standing.

First of all, our bill freezes the statewide tax on business property for one year and phases out the statewide tax on business property over a 12-year period. This will benefit small businesses throughout the state, especially those outside Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Here are some other highlights:

  • a $25 million increase in research-and-development credits for Minnesota companies;
  • a permanent $5 million increase in the Angel Investment Tax Credit;
  • allowing small businesses to take up-front capital equipment exemptions;
  • an internship grant program aimed at attracting and keeping talent in Greater Minnesota;
  • a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans.

We are waiting for Senate action on this bill as well. Have a great week and I will be back in touch soon with an update from the Capitol.

Susan Rego March 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
In response to Bex, above, the point here is not that life is sometimes unfair. That's so true. The point is that in our system of government, voting is THE fundamental right. Voter impersonation at the polls is not a problem in Minnesota. (Have you heard of one instance?) Supporters of this constitutional amendment would be making life even more unfair for a minority of eligible, registered voters by denying them the right to vote, unless they go through the necessary steps to acquire a government-issued photo ID. There is no extra burden on people like you and me who already have a driver's license. Mike, do you really think there are people out there who want to abuse the vote? Really? Drinking, cashing checks, getting on a plane - all these activities require an ID. You can't compare these things to voting, which is a civic duty and a fundamental right. The penalty for voter fraud is 5 years and a $10,000 fine. The lady in Andover who admitted to signing and sending in her daughter's absentee ballot, not knowing her daughter had also voted in person at college - she is a Christian conservative who was terribly embarrassed, and was given a light sentence. Hers is the only case Minnesota Majority was able to find, and the proposed photo ID law wouldn't have stopped it anyway.
Mike March 29, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Rego, I do believe that people might wish to abuse the vote. The Okeefe Video on Minnesota demonstrates how easy it is to do that. If fraud is easy and possible and someone might benefit from the fraud, there will be fraud. That's just the way the world works. We are inviting fraud by not protecting our polls. Lets protect them. If the disenfranchised people you are concerned about can't be bothered to go get a free state ID then why would they even be bothered to go to the polls? Yeah I know, getting an ID might require a birth certificate. Getting a certified copy of said certificate might cost something like $20. Sometimes being a citizen costs. It costs the minority who pay their taxes every year. It cost some people who died fulfilling their obligation to serve in war their very lives. Each election cycle we read of those who tirelessly work to register people to vote and then load them into 15 passenger vans and take them to the polling places. I don't think it would be so difficult for these motivated volunteers to to get the same people fixed up with some free IDs. Let's go. Let's do it. Heck, I'd even be in favor of getting IDs when you register to vote. Have a camera right there at the polling place. They give name, address, some other means of identification, and bingo... they are given a photo ID...which will be renewed at the polling place.
Susan Rego March 29, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Mike: What is the benefit to impersonating another voter at the polls? If this is something people want to do, then why haven't they? Have you ever heard of it in Minnesota? Not felons voting, which is not an ID issue. Not a mom signing and sending in her daughter's absentee ballot. An ID would not have prevented it. Who would risk $10,000 and 5 years in prison to benefit a politician? This law will do nothing to enhance election integrity, because we already have it. Minnesota has a fine reputation for clean elections. But it will suppress the vote among groups of people who don't currently have an ID. For Pete's sake, when it rains, voter turnout decreases. But at least it rains on everybody equally. Voter photo ID is only a hardship on some voters.
Genuinely Curious March 29, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Al, your mentality is exactly what's wrong with political discourse in this country right now. Your reason for opposing a perfectly sensible, practical, and useful solution to this minor problem is that the "DFL has stone walled this issue"...so...because the DFL voted agaisnt a Voter ID law and Dayton vetoed one, they've stonewalled it? OK, sure. Regardless, it's bad policy to tinker with the Constitution for something that can be done with a legislative solution - Electronic Poll Books. It cleans up are already pristine elections, it's cheaper, and it doesn't tinker with the Constitution. Yet, you're only opposed to it because soem DFL'er stole the jam out of your doughnut when you were younger, and now you feel the need to oppose everything they put forward, rather than act responsible and support a logical bi-partisan solution. Thank you, Al, for contributing to the division of this country.
Genuinely Curious March 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Mike - I totally understand your point that if someone can't be bothered enough to get an ID, then would they be bothered to go to the polls? I get that. Here's the deal, you might be right. But, you're missing the larger point here - voting is most fundamental piece of our government, and there should not be any hurdles, however minor, when it comes to voting. It is something that every citizen should be able to do with ease. Show up, cast your vote, let your voice be heard. It shouldn't fall on dedicated volunteers to help them get their ID. Although the amendment would only disenfranchise a small number of voters, even one voter disenfranchised is too many. I agree with your last point about IDs at the polling center...I posted above about Electronic Poll Books...that's essentially what it does...except, you don't need/get a physical ID, as it's electronic (or printed copies) and poll workers can look at the screen (or printed copy) and verify the identity of the person. It's simpler, just as effective, cheaper, and it doesn't tinker with the constitution. There's no good reason not to support the idea put forth by Secretary of State Ritchie...none. If you're interested, feel free to check out these links: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/02/28/voter-id-compromise/ http://www.theuptake.org/2012/03/08/governor-dayton-on-voter-photo-id-alternative/ http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2546577.shtml (3rd paragraph from the bottom)

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