Even though the Voter Integrity Act of 2009 (HF 57) introduced earlier this week by Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer (R-Delano) has been characterized by some in the media as a "politically divisive idea" ("Requiring Voter IDs Is Back on the Agenda," Pioneer Press, 1/26/09), public opinion conducted on the issue of requiring voter IDs reveals overwhelming support for the measure in the Gopher State.
On October 22, 2008 the Rasmussen polling firm asked 500 likely voters in Minnesota whether or not voters should be required "to show photo identification such as a drivers license before being allowed to vote." Nearly three-quarters of Minnesotans (73 percent) were in favor of such a proposal, with a scant 20 percent in opposition. In a Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters taken in August 2006, the split was 83 percent in favor and 13 percent opposed.
With supporters outnumbering opponents in the electorate by more than a 3:1 ratio, the issue of photo IDs may be politically divisive at the Capitol among party elites, but not on the farms outside Kenyon or in the streets of Stillwater. Emmer claims the legislation is not a partisan issue, and the Rasmussen poll lends credence to this view.
Legislation of this kind is extraordinarily popular among residents throughout the Upper Midwest. An October 23, 2008 Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters found support at 80 percent and opposition at 13 percent in Iowa, and at 73 percent and 23 percent respectively in Wisconsin.
Similar legislation has passed in seven other states, with Indiana's voter ID law recently being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision.
Interestingly, Minnesotans feel strongly about the need for voter IDs despite being quite confident in the voting system overall. In October 2008, the Rasmussen poll also found 66 percent of Minnesotans to be "very confident" that "ballots are properly counted in most elections and the right person is declared the winner." Only 8 percent were "not very" or "not at all" confident, and 26 percent were "somewhat confident."
Some House DFLers maintain election fraud is not a problem in the state and requiring voter IDs is an unfair barrier that will suppress urban area and minority voting.
Whether or not there are political motives behind Emmer's legislation, it can certainly be maintained that his bill echos the views of a supermajority of Gopher State residents.