ST PAUL, Minn. — The Republican-led Minnesota Senate narrowly approved a voter identification bill on Monday, even though the proposal has little chance of gaining the support of the DFL majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives or Democratic Gov. Tim Walz.
The measure passed on a vote of 34-32, with Independent Sen. David Tomassoni joining Senate Democrats in opposition to the bill.
The proposed bill (SF173) would require Minnesota voters to present photo identification at the polls before casting a ballot. The plan also calls for replacing the state's current same-day voter registration process with a provisional ballot system, setting aside ballots from same-day registered voters or those without identification until their residence or identity can be verified.
Several GOP-led state legislatures across the country began reviewing election laws following record turnout in the 2020 election, despite a lack of evidence to support claims of any widespread voting fraud.
During the floor debate before the Minnesota Senate's vote on Monday, bill author Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) denied the measure has anything to do with the results of the 2020 presidential election.
"I categorically deny the assertion that this bill is on the Senate floor because of the Trump-Biden election," Sen. Newman said.
At a hearing earlier in the 2021 legislative session, Newman defended the measure as a necessary protection of election integrity, referencing a 2008 Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of a voter identification law in Indiana.
"The Supreme Court held that an important aspect of voter ID is to modernize our voting system and protect public confidence in the integrity of the voting process," Newman said.
However, a statement released by Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis) shows the measure faces an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled Minnesota House.
"Ending Minnesota’s proud tradition of Same Day Registration as we know it and imposing Photo ID would hurt voters and undermine our democracy," Rep. Greenman said. "House DFLers are working to strengthen, not restrict, participation in our democracy and ensure all Minnesotans can exercise their freedom to vote - no matter where they live, what they look like, or who they vote for.”
Current Minnesota law does not require photo identification at the polls for registered voters. Minnesota voters can also register at the polls on the day of an election by providing one of several approved forms of proof of address, or by having a registered voter vouch for them.
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