People For the American Way Foundation

Voter ID goes to court in Minnesota

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, and five Minnesota voters have challenged an amendment to the Minnesota constitution (HF 2738, sponsored by ALEC State Chairwoman Mary Kiffmeyer) because it would confuse some voters into believing that prohibited forms of identification, such as student or company ID, would be accepted. The plaintiffs argue that the amendment is “misleading and false” because the ballot language references “valid photo identification” while the amendment uses the phrase “government-issued.”

Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota:

Voting is one of the most important rights we have, and this amendment aims to take away that right from the most vulnerable, under the guise of a seemingly innocuous photo ID requirement.

Jon Sherman, Staff Attorney at the ACLU Voting Rights Project:

The Minnesota State Legislature isn’t telling voters the truth about its proposed photo ID requirement for voting, and they have a right to know. Not only is this part of a wave of laws that have already had a severe impact on the right to vote nationwide, but this particular amendment effectively spells the end of Election Day registration, which significantly increases turnout.

The ballot language also fails to state that the amendment would create a new provisional ballot system for voters without acceptable ID and create a new verification process, dealing a potentially crushing blow to Minnesota’s existing Election Day registration.

Mike Dean, Executive Director of Common Cause Minnesota:

What Minnesotans need to know is that the greatest danger of this proposed amendment is the mandate to create a brand-new provisional ballot system. A provisional ballot is a not a real ballot, because it gets counted only after everything has been verified on the form or after the voter has returned to the county courthouse to show his or her government-authorized ID. That is one reason so many provisional ballots are never counted.

Although oral arguments have yet to be scheduled for the case, the plaintiffs hope that the court will act quickly with a decision coming before the Secretary of State’s office finalizes the ballot, expected in August. A similar voter ID measure recently failed to make November’s ballot in Missouri. Dean believes the Missouri case may guide the Minnesota Supreme Court.

For more information, click here and also check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.


112th Congress, ACLU, ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, Charles Samuelson, Common Cause, Jewish Community Action, Jon Sherman, League of Women Voters, LWV, Mary Kiffmeyer, Mike Dean, Policy Corner, provisional ballots, public policy, voter ID, voter suppression, voting rights