As millions of Americans question the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, wants to have a discussion about election integrity.
Newman is once again introducing a bill that would require Minnesotans to present a valid photo identification for in-person and absentee voting. Although he stressed that the bill is not being introduced at this time due to the riot in Washington, D.C., or because of unproven theories of widespread voter fraud in the recent election, he believes “every tool” must be used to “restore faith in our election system for those voters who no longer believe our system is secure.”
“I believe a voter ID requirement is the only way to truly guarantee the integrity of our elections,” Newman said in a press release. “Millions of American citizens believe there was widespread fraud during the last election, and their loss of faith in the integrity of our election system alone justifies incorporating photo ID into our voting system.”
It’s the same bill he introduced in 2020, which he says was sidelined as the Legislature’s attention turned to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law would mandate voters must produce a valid, government-issued photo identification when voting in person or by absentee ballot. Individuals unable to provide valid proof of identity or residence would be able to cast a provisional ballot, allowing the voter a period of time to obtain valid identification.
The bill also establishes a new voter ID card free of charge to individuals without proper identification and who cannot afford it. Same-day voter registration would remain intact.
“I know it’s controversial,” Newman said. “I can tell you I get as many comments in favor as I do against. So I am very aware of the fact that there are people on both sides of this issue. That doesn’t, in my mind, mean we shouldn’t talk about it.”
Newman also understands that discussion is all that’s likely to come from his effort. With House Democrats and Gov. Tim Walz unlikely to support the measure, Newman said he has no illusions that it will become law.
“Sometimes we have bills that we introduce because it involves a topic that we want to talk about,” Newman said. “I don’t do very many of those. I usually pick and choose my fights, but this one is important to me.”
Newman also said he hasn’t forgotten about 2012. That year, voters were asked whether voter ID should be required as part of a constitutional amendment. The measure was turned down by a margin of 52% to 46%. Despite that rejection, Newman believes it’s a conversation worth having.
“Times change, the voter makeup changes,” he said, “and it’s a topic that I think is important, and I’m going to keep talking about.”