By Karen Shanton
In Voter ID: Five Considerations – the lead story in the November / December issue of The Canvass – we predicted that interest in photo voter ID laws would remain high in 2013. This prediction has already been borne out. When we drafted the article, lawmakers in Arkansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin had revived discussion of their states' photo ID proposals. Since then, a number of other states have jumped in the mix. Here's a quick rundown of some recent developments on the photo ID front. We'll be back shortly with the second half of the list.
Republican Representative Bob Lynn's photo ID proposal (HB 162) failed to make it to a vote in Alaska last session, when Democrats and Republicans split control of the Legislature. With Republicans holding their lead in the Alaska House and newly in charge of the state Senate, the proposal is sure to get another airing in 2013. Lynn told the Anchorage Daily News that photo ID will "be one of the first bills we hear."
Last session, then-Representative Bryan King (R) shepherded a photo ID bill (HB 1797) through the Arkansas House only to see it die in committee in the Senate. Though the new session doesn't officially start until mid-January, newly-elected Senator King has already prefiled two photo ID bills: SB 2 would add a photo ID requirement to the Arkansas Code and SJR 1 would place a photo ID amendment on the ballot. King has also called for the creation of a voter fraud investigation unit.
Minnesota voters nixed a photo ID amendment 54 percent to 46 percent in November. The chief architect of the amendment, then-Representative Mary Kiffmeyer, has pledged to keep working for photo ID legislation in her new role as a state senator. The Republican lawmaker is likely to face continued opposition from DFL Governor Mark Dayton, who vetoed photo ID legislation in 2011. She will also have to contend with new DFL majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.
Due to an unfavorable court ruling and a veto from Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, Missouri Republicans' photo ID amendment drive fell short in 2012. However, they are committed to trying again in the upcoming session. In December, GOP state Senator Will Kraus prefiled a proposal to refer photo ID to the 2014 ballot (SJR 6). Thanks to gains in November, Republicans picked up two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly – giving them the numbers to override any future gubernatorial vetoes.
Stop by again soon for Part 2…