Minnesota’s House of Representatives has approved a controversial measure to put a referendum on voter photo IDs on the November ballot.
After nine hours of debate, the bill was passed along party lines at 2:14 a.m. on Wednesday morning by a vote of 72-62, according to the Star Tribune.
If the legislation passes the Senate, voters will get to make the final decision in November. The amendment would require all voters to show a government ID before casting their ballots in future elections.
“This is a no-brainer,” Republican state Rep. Joyce Peppin argued. “We should have an identification to vote — a very simple and important right that we all hold dear.”
Democrats, who are outnumbered in the Minnesota House 72 to 62, opposed the measure but expected it to pass.
“I’m sure it would pass,” state Rep. Steve Simon (DFL) explained. “I can read an opinion poll. … There are lots of things that are popular … it doesn’t mean they ought to go into the Constitution.”
“This is a really big deal,” Simon added. “For the first time in Minnesota history, we are putting policy preferences into the constitution, on a whim, because one party can — because they have the votes.”
A study released last year by the Brennan Center for Justice determined that the new restrictions on who can vote — largely championed by Republican lawmakers — could suppress the the votes of more than 5 million young, minority, low-income, and disabled voters, all groups who tend to vote for Democrats.
New photo ID restrictions in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin could disenfranchise up to 3.2 million voters, the report found. Another 2.6 million voters could be suppressed by proof of citizenship laws, laws restricting voter registration drives, election day registration restrictions, reduced early voting and restrictions on when convicted felons may have their voting rights restored.
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