Ryan Holeywell is a staff writer at GOVERNING.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesotans turned down a proposal that would have required voters to show photo identification before voting, rejecting a plan that's gained traction in 12 states over the last two years.
About 53.6 percent of voters rejected the proposed constitutional amendment, which was opposed by a broad coalition of organizations including the Minnesota chapters of the AARP, ACLU, and League of Women Voters.
Critics of the proposal portrayed it as an attempt to disenfranchise some voters. They also said passage would have jeopardized same-day voter registration, which is popular in Minnesota.
Republican state lawmakers had pursued the ballot amendment as an end-run around Gov. Mark Dayton, who had previously vetoed an attempt by the legislature to enact voter ID.
Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota, said his side won because of its efforts to educate voters and debate voter ID proponents in all parts of the state. He said it's unlikely voter ID will pass in Minnesota in the near future, but its supporters may continue to push for it.
"They believe as an article of faith that there is voter fraud," Samuelson said. "Also, they believe that's a big reason Democrats win elections. Will they try again? Probably."
A study by a non-profit that surveyed all of the state's 87 county attorneys found that they investigated just seven cases of voter impersonation related to the 2008 election, and they got no convictions. Studies like those have lead to criticism that voter ID laws like the one considered in Minnesota attempt to solve a problem that doesn't actually exist.
Dan McGrath, executive director of several Minnesota organizations that campaigned for a voter ID law, hasn't returned calls from Governing made on Wednesday morning and in the days preceding the election.
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