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Jeff Davis: Why Gov. Dayton should sign a voter ID bill

  • Article by: JEFF DAVIS
  • January 30, 2011 - 6:13 PM

(Note: For another view, see Jason Marisam's commentary, "Voter ID bill - a solution in search of a problem?")

Commentary

While candidate Mark Dayton was on the campaign trail, he stated that he would veto any bill requiring Minnesotans to present a photographic identification when voting.

But here's why Gov. Mark Dayton will sign the 21st Century Voter ID bill.

Poll after poll shows that more than 80 percent of Minnesotans support requiring a photographic identification card when voting.

When's the last time you recall 80 percent of voters agreeing on any political issue?

The bill employs new technologies that will streamline election processes, saving millions of dollars in administrative expenses while simultaneously improving the accuracy and integrity of our elections.

Dayton says he desires to improve government operational efficiency and workforce productivity. Well, here's his first chance.

For all the hand-wringing exhibited by liberal Democratic politicians about the introduction of the bill, even they publicly acknowledged that it's a foregone conclusion that it will be passed by the Legislature and end up on the governor's desk.

Dayton is politically astute enough to understand that if he vetoes the bill, there will be a stiff political price to be paid.

Just ask those Democrats who were recently ousted from the Legislature largely due to their votes against voter ID. It would be much wiser for the governor to bargain with Republicans for something he wants in return for supporting this legislation.

The governor must also recognize that if he vetoes the bill, leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature will simply place the measure on the 2012 ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment.

Governors have no say in the constitutional-amendment process. Once a ballot initiative is approved by the Legislature, it will go straight to the voters.

No ballot question with more than 57 percent public support has ever failed to pass in the history of Minnesota.

One way or another, voter ID will be the law of the land in Minnesota. It's inevitable.

The only question for Dayton is whether he wants to be viewed as a centrist governor willing to lead in enacting positive government reforms or as a radical obstructionist who's completely out of step with Minnesota voters.

My guess is he will do right by the people of Minnesota and sign the bill.

Jeff Davis is president of Minnesota Majority, a government watchdog group.

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