Minnesota Close to Passing Country’s Most Restrictive Voter ID Law


Most of us do not think twice about having proper identification when it comes to proving who we are. But 10% of Americans do not have acceptable ID that would allow them to vote in some states. Minnesota is the most recent state to join the legislative wave that began in 2010 to increase restrictions on voters and may now become the most restrictive state.

Wednesday morning, the Legislative House in Minnesota passed a constitutional amendment by a vote of 72 to 62 requiring all voters to have government issued photo ID. This amendment will go before the Senate and require a majority vote before the amendment can be placed on a statewide ballot in November.

Photo-ID bills have been signed into law in Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Ohio. More than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already in place this year — a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

Minnesota is the third state to achieve this goal via a constitutional amendment, but not all constitutional amendments are equal. From one state to another, what constitutes acceptable photo identification varies. In those states, for example, where any government issued ID is acceptable, EBT debit cards (for those receiving social services), may be used as identification. Yet Mississippi, who also wrote this into law via constitutional amendment, has exemptions for seniors in nursing homes and for individuals who have religious objections to sharing this information on government issued ID, Mike Means of Common Cause Minnesota told me in an interview.

Instead of investing in the hiring of more teachers or firefighters, the state has chosen to focus on voter ID. But because the wording of the constitutional amendment “is ambiguous,” says Means, “it is unknown what impact this will have on seniors, students, the low income and especially people of color.”

Some of the potential problems and expenses associated with this amendment are:

  • the amendment will be expensive to implement
  • more judges will need to be elected to oversee and interpret this amendment
  • there will be a need for public education
  • there will be increased litigation costs

Will a drivers license with an old (real) address that does not match ones’ current address prevent you from voting in Minnesota? If there are typos in the spelling of your name or an incorrect middle initial, will you be denied the vote? Everyone, according to Means, will have to double check their ID to be certain every single item is in keeping with the new law so as not to be denied their right to vote.

Minnesota currently has the highest participation of voters in the nation. Yet with the constitutional amendment, Minnesota could become one of the worst as measured by voter participation by creating confusion and disenfranchisement of the low income people, especially people of color, seniors and students.

According to Means, it is possible as a result of the constitutional amendment that Minnesota could wind up with an Eight Track Amendment. The future may bring new methods of identification such as retinal identification or finger prints. Minnesota would be stuck for another 30 to 40 years with the constitutional amendment in spite of technological advances until the voters changed the law again.

The House version of the voter ID amendment will go before the Senate in the next several days, but because the language of the amendment must be exact in both the House and the Senate version, a Conference Committee will likely be created to craft a constitutional amendment that will go back to the full Legislative House before being voted upon. Common Cause Wisconsin, says Means,” will be working to educate the public so that this amendment will hopefully be rejected at the ballot box in November.”


Related Stories:

Florida Voter Restrictions Might Be Intentionally Discriminatory

NAACP Goes to UN to Protest Voter Suppression

Are the Blind Leading the Blind Determining Justice?


Photo from Thinkstock


Rebecca Mesa
Rebecca Mesa4 years ago

Luckily, Duane, that was almost a year ago, and it DIDN'T pass!

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Judith H.
judith H5 years ago

For voting in a national election, the law should be the same in every state. It's insane that a person could vote in one state but not in another.

Rebecca Mesa
Rebecca Mesa5 years ago


Take it from a county clerk.

Charles Wasserman

If you think there is no vote fraud in this country, then you have never been to Chicago.

Rebecca Mesa
Rebecca Mesa5 years ago

NO constitution should ever be amended to restrict the rights of people in any way. State constitutions are now being used as a means to bypass the governor and get your bill passed. That is NOT the purpose of a constitution! I've always been proud of Minnesota, where I'm from. People were angry everywhere that President Obama wasn't able to clean up 8 years of crap in less than a year, so all the Tea Partiers were elected. Well, this is what you get when you elect these people. Hopefully 2 years of putting up with them has opened people's eyes. And Vincent L., you're absolutely right. Conservatives are known for ruling by fear. All they have to do is plant the seed, throw the fear and doubt out there, and let the now fearful public take care of the rest. We have no voter fraud problems in this country, and they know it. My belief is that there is such a push by the conservatives to get things done right now because they may be out come this next election.

Jason S.
Jason S5 years ago

Good Posting, Thanks

Chad A.
Chad Anderson5 years ago

There is no law in every state that mandates carrying an ID. I have had employees with no IDs. I have no problem with having people carrying IDs (although it sounds a lot like what I went through when I visited the GDR: Papers, please...), but changing the law in such a way that people with no practical ability to get the required documents to exercise a fundamental right have to go through great expense is an injustice. If the state is responsible for providing ID and makes it accessible to everyone and solves the problems of lifelong voters having to sue to continue exercising their rights, then IDs for voting is fine with me, particularly if it eases voting and makes it easier for people to participate.

Maya S.
Maya Silverman5 years ago

thank you....

Karen H.
Karen H5 years ago

The legislators seem so intent on making America a repressive state. This sounds like the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. What will we need next, a DNA sample?
Voter fraud has been going on since the first ballot was cast. Even with restrictive policies, voter fraud will still be an issue. Where there’s a law, there are people who find ways around it—and it isn’t the people targeted by these laws.
“Instead of investing in the hiring of more teachers or firefighters, the state has chosen to focus on voter ID.” Gee, nice to know the unemployed firefighter who could have saved me from a burning building can vote.
The Republicans want to restrict voting by low-income people, people of color, seniors and students, because they’re more likely to vote for Democrats. And if this is the way Republicans treat them, they should!
The money to get this law into effect could be much better used elsewhere.
One question: “Mississippi, who also wrote this into law via constitutional amendment, has exemptions for … individuals who have religious objections to sharing this information on government issued ID.” Does it specify which religion that would apply to?