After the House and Senate passed slightly different versions of the Voter ID bill, a conference committee eliminated those disparities and that legislation appears close to becoming the second constitutional amendment to appear on November's ballot.
On Monday evening, a conference committee charged with ironing out the differences in the bills came to an agreement on the final version of the bill. It will now head back to both chambers for final approval.
If the legislation passes from both the Senate and House as expected, voters will be asked to answer this question on the November ballot: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”
According to the non-partisan House Public Information Services, the key changes adopted by the conference committee include:
• removing language added on the Senate floor that would have allowed for technologies “equivalent” to photo ID to meet the necessary requirements;
• requiring “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification” for absentee and mail-in voters (previous versions referred to “eligibility verification” only); and
• a substantially shorter ballot question than had been proposed by the Senate.
The conference committee heard limited testimony on the legislation. Beth Fraiser from the Secretary of State’s office argued that the new version is worse than the old one, continuing the argument that voter ID eliminates same-day registration.
Opponents of the legislation have already threatened a lawsuit upon adoption of the constitutional amendment. If adopted, the changes would apply to elections on July 1, 2013 and onward.