Photo ID: Reading between the lines

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 4, 2012 - 8:51 PM

 

Now that the bill is passed by both houses, the proposed constitutional amendment requiring all voters to show a photo ID will go on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. There are two parts to the amendment: The ballot question to be posed to voters, and the actual changes to the Constitution, which are written by the Legislature but which will not appear on the ballot.

BALLOT QUESTION

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Voters choose "yes" or "no." A majority of all those voting must approve it for it to pass. Those who skip the amendment question are counted as "no" votes.

CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

Two sections would be added to Article 7 of the Minnesota Constitution, which deals with voting requirements such as age, residence in the precinct and not serving a felony sentence.

The new sections would be:

• All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.

• All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.

THE DEBATE

DFLers and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie fear that the second section, which focuses on registration and not on voting, will have a greater effect than the ID requirement, by making it nearly impossible to register voters on Election Day. In a big election year, more than a half-million Minnesotans use same-day registration. The new system of "provisional" ballots and the requirement that the ID be "government-issued" do not appear on the ballot question but would become part of the Constitution if the question is approved. Supporters say same-day registration will be limited but not eliminated, and argue that "government-issued" IDs are the most secure.

JIM RAGSDALE

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