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Ellison introduces bills to erase photo ID voting requirements

Posted by: under 5th District Updated: November 2, 2011 - 3:57 PM

Rep. Keith Ellison introduced two voter ID bills Wednesday, including one that would undo photo ID voting laws in 14 states and would have stopped legislation vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this year.

Ellison’s bills would prohibit states from requiring photo ID to vote and require states to allow same-day voter registration. They both are unlikely to get any traction in the Republican-led House.

Voter ID has been a heated topic in Minnesota and states across the nation this year, as legislatures have strengthened voter ID laws. Fourteen states have passed laws requiring photo ID to vote, and another 16 require some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a voter ID bill in May that would have required photo ID.

Ellison said his bills would counteract state laws that have disenfranchised voters. “These laws add up to the greatest attack on voting rights since the Jim Crow era,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a House floor speech.

Republicans have fought for tougher voter ID laws, arguing that they are needed to curb voter fraud. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said in May that the state's voter ID bill would "dramatically improve the public confidence in the integrity of Minnesota's election system."

Voter ID laws have long been a contentious issue in Minnesota, even before the 2008 razor-thin Senate recount between Al Franken and Norm Coleman that sparked accusations of voter fraud.

Ellison and state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, a former Secretary of State who sponsored the Minnesota voter ID bill, have both testified at congressional hearings on the subject. Ellison filed a brief with the Congressional Black Caucus when the Supreme Court found Indiana’s photo ID law constitutional in 2008.

After Dayton’s May veto, Kiffmeyer said she will introduce a photo ID bill in next year’s legislative session before moving to get a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot.

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