Minnesota Democrats have proposed an amendment to the state constitution guaranteeing the right to “free, fair, and equal” elections in response to Republican efforts to pass a voter ID law.
“Voter suppression is a danger to the foundation of our democracy,” said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), who’s carrying the bill in the Senate.
“Enshrining the right to vote is something we can all come together and agree upon. Guaranteeing free, fair, and equal elections aligns with the values so many Minnesotans have. This guarantee in our Constitution will secure and increase access to the electoral franchise, further expanding upon Minnesota’s reputation as a voting rights leader in the U.S.,” he continued.
A press release from his office said that the amendment will guarantee “that Minnesota will not be like other states that have decreased access to voting by requiring photo ID, making voter registration more difficult, reducing early voting opportunities, making it harder for students to vote, etc.”
Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis), sponsor of the bill in the House, decried the “constant attempts to restrict voting by making it harder for Minnesotans to vote.”
“This amendment will protect the right to vote and ensure that Minnesota’s elections are fair, free, and equal,” he said.
If passed, the amendment would be placed on the 2020 election ballot for residents to vote on.
“Elections shall be free, fair, and equal. No civil or military power shall, at any time, interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote,” states the proposed amendment.
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. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said Republicans will “push hard” for a voter ID law this session.
“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 recently. “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.”
Attorney General Keith Ellison said voter ID laws are “clearly a bad thing” and vowed to “defeat it again.”
“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,” said Ellison. “In 2020 it’s still a horrible idea with impure motivation.”
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Background Photo “Minnesota License” by Minnesota Driver Vehicle Services.