Following nine hours of debate that began late Tuesday afternoon and concluded early Wednesday morning, the House voted 72-62 in favor of the Voter Photo ID bill. Representative Torrey Westrom says he supported the bill after assurances that it would not add barriers or obstacles to law-abiding senior citizens, the disabled, nursing home residents and other voters. Westrom noted all House Republicans supported the bill; all House Democrats opposed it. Westrom said it was set up to be a amendment for the voters in the fall of 2012: the amendment will ask whether a photo identification should be part of an identification system that voting officials would use to help authenticate. Republicans have argued Voter IDs are necessary to keep integrity in our election system. It’s just good reform for government in the 21st century, Westrom said, a simple way to bring integrity and improve our election systems in Minnesota.
Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock says the vote on the voter ID bill is again a case of misplaced priorities. He says we have major challenges in Minnesota, the unemployment rate is still too high, there is a shortage of jobs, there are many more important issues the legislature needs to focus on to address the issues and challenges of today. Falk said instead of focusing on a bonding bill, instead of focusing on jobs legislation, instead of paying back our kids, instead of closing corporate tax loopholes, “they said our first and upmost priority has to be working on these divisive constitutional amendments. We need to be focused on the real issues Minnesotans care about.” The bill still awaits floor action in the full Senate.