Senate passes voter ID bill, Democrats compare effort to Jim Crow

DFL Sen. Lindsey Port compared the bill to Jim Crow laws while speaking in opposition to the piece of legislation Monday.

Sen. Scott Newman/Facebook

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill Monday that would require residents to present a photo ID to vote and register to vote.

SF 173 is authored by Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and four of his Republican colleagues.

The bill would require voters to present a valid government-issued photo ID when voting. A free voter-ID card could be obtained for those who do not already own proper identification.

If a citizen is not able to obtain any one of the numerous documents approved for identification, that person would be allowed to sign an affidavit when voting that shows they are a legal voter, tried to get a government-issued ID, and were not able to do so.

“There is a reason that voter ID is so overwhelmingly popular: It is a common-sense, easy way to restore credibility, integrity, and security in the elections process,” Newman said in a press release.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, called the bill “common sense, simple stuff” during a Senate floor session Monday.

Newman was behind a 2012 ballot initiative to amend the Minnesota Constitution to require voter ID. The amendment was rejected by voters in a vote of 54% to 46%.

The U.S. Supreme Court case Crawford v. Marion County, in which the court ruled that a photo-ID requirement for voting does not pose an undue burden, serves as precedent for the bill, Newman said in a previous hearing.

Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, compared the bill to Jim Crow laws while speaking in opposition to the piece of legislation during Monday’s debate.

“I’m disappointed that here in Minnesota, we’re one of 43 states trying to pass anti-voter legislation. These bills all across the country have the effect of disenfranchising voters like Jim Crow laws of the past,” Port said. “Bills like this one primarily disenfranchise black, brown, indigenous, new American voters, and the elderly, seniors, students, the disabled, and LGBTQ communities.”

Port is the chief author of a “large, comprehensive bill” that includes automatic voter registration, felon voting access, longer early-voting periods, permanent ballot drop boxes, and more.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said Monday that voter ID laws have proven “time and time again” to “deprive voters of their rights.”

Democrats responded to the bill earlier this year by calling it “incredibly harmful,” “voter suppression,” and “dangerous.”

A poll published in the spring edition of Thinking Minnesota from the Center of the American Experiment shows that over two-thirds of Minnesotans support voter ID.

Ninety-three percent of Republicans support the bill, while only 51% of Democrats support voter ID. Overall, 69% of Minnesota citizens are in favor of requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote, according to the poll.

A March poll from Rasmussen Reports found that 75% of Americans support voter ID laws, including 69% of black Americans.

The bill passed in the Senate with a vote of 34-32, but is unlikely to pass the DFL-controlled House.


Rose Williams
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Rose Williams is an assistant editor for Alpha News.