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Voter identification requirement passes Minnesota Senate committee

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 47) — On Wednesday, a Minnesota Senate committee voted in favor of a bill that would require voter identification.

“To protect the integrity of Minnesota’s election process so that those citizens who have properly voted will not be disenfranchised both those illegally cast and counted, “said Sen. Scott Newman, (R) Hutchinson, author of the bill.

Newman previously authored a similar bill that made it onto the ballots in 2012.

“That amendment was defeated by the voters,” he said.

The bill would require Minnesotans to show some type of identification in order to vote, but those who don’t have one would be able to receive an ID for free.

“Even making the voter ID ‘free’, does not make it ‘free’,” said Jana Koreen, ACLU Community Engagement Director.

She believes the bill could disproportionately harm many people of color as well as low-income individuals, senior citizens, and students.

“People from those communities are less likely to have a current valid ID which can take time and money to obtain. People may also lack the proper documentation needed to obtain proper identification,” Koreen said.

“I urge all members to do what I did when I was in the legislature. Every time I was at an assisted living center or a nursing home I did an informal poll. I said raise your hand if you have a current ID that reflects this current address where you now live. I never got past 50 percent. Therein lies a big problem,” said Steve Simon, Secretary of State.

Newman also referred to a similar voter ID case in Indiana, that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The court found that photo ID laws do in fact pose a burden on voters. But by providing for a provisional ballot and a free voter ID card for those who cannot, or do not have voter ID, the court found, ‘it is not a substantial, burden on the right to vote.’ The court went on to discuss the fact that with provisional ballots, no one is disenfranchised. While at the same time the election officials can be assured that the person voting is the person on the registration list,” Newman said.

However, Simon sees additional issues.

“Provisional balloting, it would create a maybe list. Maybe we’ll count them, maybe we won’t for the first time in Minnesota history. And it’s no wonder that across the country some 85 percent of provisional ballots are never counted because people don’t want to go to a county office a week after an election. Particularly, after all the results have been called. They’re just not going to do it. So those people will be shut out,” Simon said.

The bill passed in a 5 to 3 vote in the Senate Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee. The bill now goes to the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification when voting.

KaMaria Braye

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