Minnesota Senate passes voter ID requirement, unlikely to become law

The Minnesota Senate passed a voter identification requirement Monday, though it almost certainly won't become law.

The bill passed 34-32, with no support from Democrats. It would require voters to have photo identification, such as a driver's license. Without one, the person could cast a provisional ballot and then return later to prove his or her identity to election officials.

Photo ID requirements are a top priority for Republicans nationwide after President Donald Trump's 2020 election loss and unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud.

"The big lie about voter fraud is just that -- it's a lie," state Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, said during the debate.

The measure has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House.

Senate Republicans said photo identification requirements were key to reducing voters' perception of fraud in elections.

"You need a photo ID for virtually every other transaction that takes place in your life," said state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes. He ticked through a list, ranging from boarding an airplane to buying alcohol.

Democrats said voter impersonation -- the type of fraud that identification requirements would combat -- is nonexistent in Minnesota. Instead, they said photo ID rules would disenfranchise people of color and the elderly who did not know about the requirement or would struggle to obtain identification.

State Sen. Steve Cwodzinski said the Senate bill would've prevented him from voting as a 19-year-old living at the downtown Minneapolis YMCA in 1978.

"Nothing was good about living at the YMCA in the late 1970s," said Cwodzinski, DFL-Eden Prairie. "Every single document in this bill, I didn't possess. I didn't have a driver's license. I had just moved here from Wisconsin."

Cwodzinski said he was able to vote because of Minnesota's so-called "vouching" law, which allows a registered voter to attest for someone else's address. In separate legislation, Senate Republicans have voted to eliminate the vouching option.

Trump claimed widespread fraud after he lost the November election. His campaign lost dozens of court cases after it was unable to prove wrongdoing.

State Sen. Scott Newman, the bill's GOP author, rebuffed a link between his bill and Trump's claims.

"I categorically deny the assertion that this bill is on the Senate floor because of the Trump-Biden election," said Newman, R-Hutchinson.