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Minnesota, Kansas and Wisconsin in middle of national voter-ID fight

by Tim Anderson ~ April 2012 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The flurry of activity over voter-ID laws that began in 2011 has continued this year, in state courthouses and capitols across the Midwest.
In Minnesota, the fate of the law is being left to voters themselves: State legislators passed a proposed constitutional amendment in April that would require individuals to present government-issued photo identification at the polls. The amendment, which will appear on the November ballot, also calls for the state to provide free identification to eligible voters.
The Legislature’s actions came one year after strict voter-ID legislation was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who expressed concern over adding barriers to voting. Opponents have also said the new requirement conflicts with Minnesota’s same-day voter-registration system. (Minnesota is one of nine U.S. states that allows voters to register on Election Day; Iowa, North Dakota and Wisconsin are among the others.)
Last year, voter-ID bills were signed into law in Kansas and Wisconsin, with supporters saying they will help combat election fraud.
The Kansas measure also includes a provision requiring first-time voters to show some proof of citizenship: for example, a driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, a birth certificate or U.S. passport. The proof-of-citizenship requirement was set to take effect on Jan. 1, though there was a push in the Legislature this year to move up the date before this year’s general election. (The legislation had not yet passed as of early April.)
Implementation of Wisconsin’s new law has been delayed due to a court ruling in March that declared the measure unconstitutional. That decision is being appealed.
Indiana, Michigan and South Dakota are among the other U.S. states with laws requiring voters to show photo ID. In Michigan and South Dakota, voters without a photo ID can still cast regular ballots if they sign an affidavit.
Under Indiana’s law, people who don’t show an ID are able to cast a provisional ballot, but for the vote to count, they must provide the necessary documentation to local election officers. The new laws in Kansas and Wisconsin are similar to Indiana’s.