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Stunner: Voter ID amendment fails

In a shocking upset, the voter ID amendment has failed, and by a sizable margin. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, the "no" votes led by nearly 8 percentage points, MPR says. The measure would have amended the state constitution to require voters to bring photo IDs to the polls.

In a shocking upset, the voter ID amendment has failed, and by a sizable margin, MPR reports. With 98.6 percent of the vote counted, 53.8 percent had voted "no" and 46.2 voted yes, MPR says.

It was a surprising turn-around: Through much of the campaign season, polls suggested the amendment would pass.

But amendment supporters knew as midnight approached Tuesday that it did not look good for the amendment. They were taking down signs and cleaning up after a gathering at O'Gara's tavern in St. Paul shortly before midnight, MPR reported.

"There aren't enough votes there to turn it around," Dan McGrath of Protect My Vote told MPR. The leader of the pro-amendment campaign vowed to push for a voter ID law in the Legislature.

At issue was the ballot measure that asked voters if the state should create a constitutional amendment that would require voters to bring a photo identification to the polls.

The Republican-backed proposal was part of a national push by Republicans to tighten up voting systems at the state level, the Star Tribune notes. The Minnesota battle was completely partisan – Republican state lawmakers supported it and DFLers opposed it.

Throughout the campaign season, polls showed that the voter ID amendment had the support of a majority of Minnesotans, although polls just a few days before the election showed it could be very close.

Supporters of the amendment said it was needed to prevent fraud and protect the integrity of voting in Minnesota.

Critics said the amendment is an expensive answer to a problem that doesn't exist, given that there have been no cases of people being prosecuted in Minnesota for voter impersonation or double voting. Cost estimates for the amendment range from $1 million to $50 million. Critics also say the amendment was a cynical play by a Republican legislature to lower Democratic voter turnout. That's because 84,000 people are registered to vote but have no ID, and more of them are left-leaning: elderly, college students, and the poor. Critics have also said the issue should be handled in state law because ID technology is rapidly changing, and laws are much easier to update than the constitution.

Whether voter fraud is a myth or real problem is complicated question.

The Legislature would have to sort out the details on how photo ID will work. Among the questions: What kind of ID will be accepted? What happens if voters don’t have one? How much it would cost and who pays?

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Estimates of how much it will cost to implement a voter ID requirement at Minnesota polling places range from a few million dollars to $100 million. The cost is among many details that state lawmakers will need to fill in if residents approve a Constitutional amendment requiring a government-issued ID to vote.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday afternoon in a lawsuit aimed at keeping the voter ID constitutional amendment off of the statewide ballot. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, League of Women Voters Minnesota and other anti-amendment groups are asking the court to strike down the ballot question. They claim its wording is too vague and misleading.

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