Minnesota governor vetoes voter identification bill

MINNEAPOLIS Thu May 26, 2011 6:13pm EDT

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MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Democratic Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have required voters to provide photo identification to cast votes.

Dayton cited a lack of broad bi-partisan support for the bill and its potential as a $23 million unfunded mandate on local governments in part for his veto. The Republican-led Legislature had sent the bill to him on Monday.

Supporters had argued the bill would strengthen the integrity of the election system in Minnesota.

Dayton said he did not believe voter fraud to be a significant problem in Minnesota and that the reason most often cited for requiring photo identification, felons voting, would not be resolved by the bill.

"We have the highest voter turnout year after year and under intense, bipartisan scrutiny, the recent statewide recounts have highlighted how reliable the results are," Dayton said in a letter notifying the Senate of his veto.

Eleven states now require a photo ID to vote and a Kansas law takes effect January 1. More than 30 states have considered adding or strengthening voter ID requirements this year, according to National Conference of State Legislatures data.

New Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a voter ID bill into law on Wednesday.

Dayton's letter quoted former Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, now a presidential candidate, in saying that changes to the election process should be bi-partisan.

Dayton signed an executive order establishing a bi-partisan task force to make recommendations by January 15, 2013, on ways to modernize the state's voting, including fraud prevention.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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