Minnesota Senate Republicans plan to introduce legislation to require a photo ID for voting, but a DFL state senator thinks the idea is “racist.”
Minnesotans rejected a 2012 ballot initiative that would have amended the state constitution to require voters to present a photo ID when going to the polls. The initiative was defeated by 225,000 votes, but Senate Republicans plan to renew the effort with a legislative proposal during the upcoming session.
The Senate’s Republican majority unveiled its legislative agenda earlier this month, which included a promise to “promote legislation to require a photo ID when you vote.”
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said Republicans will “push hard” for a voter ID law in a video released Friday.
“A few years ago we tried to do that. I don’t think it was clear in people’s minds what actually we were trying to do, but we simply want to say you have to show your ID to vote,” he said. “I think it matters. I think with all the things that have been happening around us, people want to know that the elections are secure.”
WE NEED VOTER ID: We care about keeping elections secure in Minnesota, that's why we will pass legislation to require a photo ID when you vote.
— Minnesota Senate Republicans (@mnsrc) January 24, 2020
Attorney General Keith Ellison vowed to “defeat it again” in a Twitter post Sunday afternoon, The Minnesota Sun reported.
“Minnesotans rejected photo ID in 2012 by 225,000 votes because it suppresses the vote, especially of the elderly, people of color, the poor, military personnel serving overseas, and others. In 2020 it’s still a horrible idea with impure motivation,” he said.
State Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) took things a step further in a Monday interview with Minnesota Public Radio.
“It has been a consistent strategy going back to the Jim Crow South at creating barriers for people for them to be able to vote,” he claimed. “I just think for the Senate Republicans to kind of bring this back after the voters firmly rejected it is shortsighted, it’s oppressive and, dare I say, I think it’s racist.”
There are currently a total of 36 states that require some form of identification for voting. State Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) plans to sponsor the voter ID bill when the legislative session kicks off February 11.
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