The Minnesota Senate today approved a broadly popular bill that would require Minnesotans to present a valid photo identification for in-person, absentee, and mail-in voting. The bill also establishes a new voter identification card that would be available free of charge to individuals who lack proper identification and cannot afford it. The bill would make Minnesota the 37th state to require some form of identification to vote.

“In Minnesota, we value integrity not only in everyday life, but especially in our elections,” Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) said Monday. “Using an ID to prove identity is common in our society. From getting on an airplane to applying for Welfare or Medicaid, you must prove you are who you say you are. Voter ID is an easy, common-sense way to restore faith in our free and fair election process. Not only will it ensure each vote is valid, it will also provide ID free of charge for those who do not already have it or cannot afford it. If anything, I believe this will promote even more voter engagement.”

Voter ID is widely popular throughout the United States. A recent Rasmussen survey found the issue garners 75% support, while the statistical website 538 recently published a round-up of several polls highlighting the popularity of the issue. In Minnesota, the nonpartisan think tank Center of the American Experiment recently found voter ID enjoys 69% support.

The bill guarantees that not a single legal voter would be disenfranchised by the new requirement. Individuals unable to provide valid proof of identity or residence would be able to cast a provisional ballot, affording the voter a period of time in which they could prove their identity. If a voter then exhausts all options and is still unable to provide documentation, that voter would be allowed to sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury affirming they are a legal voter, and would then have their ballot counted. Same-day voter registration would also remain intact.

In the 2008 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Crawford v. Marion County, the Court held that an Indiana law requiring a photo ID to vote did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the Court held there are “legitimate state interests” in voting laws requiring photo ID, including deterring, detecting, and preventing voter fraud, improving and modernizing election procedures, and safeguarding voter confidence in elections. Finally, the Court also held that federal law authorizes states to use a photo identification requirement to determine an individual’s eligibility to vote. 

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