Voter ID and the person in the military

Is this ad wrong?

An organization pushing the voter ID amendment in Minnesota filed a complaint with Minnesota campaign overlords today, arguing that the assertion that a military ID won’t be considered a valid ID is flat-out wrong.

“To them, military IDs aren’t valid IDs,” the young man says.

The truth? Nobody really knows yet because the legislation going before the voters is nothing if not vague. Voters are being asked to vote on a principle — the idea of showing a photo ID before voting — than a finely crafted piece of legislation that’s intended to tell you everything there is to know before you decide whether it warrants changing the state’s Constitution..

Consider this from MPR’s Molly Bloom and Curtis Gilbert:

The fact is, the legislation is unspecific when it comes to saying how the bill would work. This is the entire piece of legislation:


An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, article VII, section 1, will read:

Section 1. (a) Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct. The place of voting by one otherwise qualified who has changed his residence within 30 days preceding the election shall be prescribed by law. The following persons shall not be entitled or permitted to vote at any election in this state: A person not meeting the above requirements; a person who has been convicted of treason or felony, unless restored to civil rights; a person under guardianship, or a person who is insane or not mentally competent.

(b) All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.

(c) All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.


(a) The proposed amendment must be submitted to the people at the 2012 general election. If approved, the amendment is effective July 1, 2013, for all voting at elections scheduled to be conducted November 5, 2013, and thereafter. The question submitted must be:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?

There’s nothing in the legislation that says how voter ID is going to work, but there’s also nothing in the legislation that says military IDs won’t be honored.

But we do have a sense of who won’t be given any exemptions — veterans in nursing homes and students away at school.

In particular, four amendments were offered in both the House and Senate debate last spring.

One would have given veterans living in a state veterans home a pass. But the amendment was rejected on a 71-to-63 vote. (March 20) in the House. It lost 36-to-30 in the Senate. (March 23)

Another amendment would’ve given a voter living and voting in a state-licensed care facility (old people, basically) a pass. It lost 71-to 63 (March 20) in the House. It lost 35-30 in the Senate. (March 23)

Students “enrolled in a public or private post-secondary institution located within or outside the state” might’ve also been exempted. But that, too, lost in the Senate 36-to-30. (March 23)

And, finally, Senate Republicans turned aside an exemption for anyone living in a precinct where mail-in voting was allowed. That failed along party lines, too.

Curiously, at least as near as I’ve been able to tell, nobody tried to propose an amendment during the floor debate that specifically would have said, “if you’re in the military and you’ve got an ID, you’re good.” It would have been so simple.

But all of this is going to be worked out by the next Legislature, which gives this year’s legislative races all the more importance. Also curiously, few candidates running for the Legislature seem to be playing that fact up.