NCSL Update on Voter ID Legislation in 2013

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[Image courtesy of Hispanically Speaking News]

While voter ID isn’t likely to dominate headlines in 2013 the way it did in 2012, there is still likely to be significant activity on the issue in several states. Over the holidays, NCSL’s Karen Shanton did a terrific two-part preview of those efforts – here’s an excerpt:

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.

Montana Representative Ted Washburn has introduced a proposal (HB 108) to limit voter IDs to state-issued and tribal photo ID cards. Under his proposal, non-photo IDs, such as utility bills and bank statements, would no longer be accepted at the polls. Nor would passports or military, veterans or student ID cards. The Republican lawmaker's previous attempt to cull the acceptable ID list (HB 152) ended with a veto from Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is known for his trademark branding iron vetoes.

In what some are touting as a twist, Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller is championing a photo ID proposal in Nevada. This move isn't quite as surprising as it seems. Miller's plan – which is modeled on the electronic poll books backed by Minnesota's DFL Governor Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie – is fundamentally different from traditional photo ID proposals. And Miller seems to see it as a way to forestall enactment of more restrictive ID bills.

Before the 2012 election, Republicans held a veto-proof majority in the New Hampshire General Court. However, Democrats made substantial gains in November, picking up the majority in the state House and drawing close to a tie in the Senate. They hope to use their newfound clout to roll back the photo ID law passed over Democratic Governor John Lynch's veto in 2012 (SB 289). Democratic Representative Timothy Horrigan has taken the first step toward a repeal bill, filing a legislative service request (LSR 65). Democratic Representative Lucy Weber has also filed a photo ID-related LSR (LSR 574).

Republican state Senator Patrick Gallivan has prefiled a photo ID bill (SB 100) in New York. A similar effort (SB 7112) failed to make it out of committee last session. Thanks to a power-sharing agreement brokered in early December, Empire State Republicans will split control of the Senate with the Independent Democratic Conference. (In an unexpected turn of events, Republicans and Republican-voting Democrat Simcha Felder have since picked up enough seats to hold the Senate outright. They say they will continue to honor the power-sharing agreement.) Still, with the Assembly firmly in Democratic hands, SB 100 faces long odds.

Photo ID legislation in North Carolina (HB 351) was felled by a veto from Democratic Governor Bev Perdue in 2011. State Republicans are much more optimistic about its chances when GOP Governor-elect – and vocal photo ID backer – Pat McCrory takes office in 2013. (Because some counties in North Carolina are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the legislation would also have to be precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice to go into effect.)

In May 2012, Virginia enacted a non-photo voter ID bill (SB 1). Republican Delegate Mark Cole wants to further tighten ID requirements. He has filed a proposal (HB 1337) to strike utility bills, bank statements, government checks and pay stubs from the list of acceptable IDs.

Republican lawmakers will redouble their efforts to pass a photo ID law in Wisconsin in 2013. On UpFront with Mike Gousha, incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) expressed his continued commitment to photo ID legislation and said that he would support a photo ID amendment (skip to 2:45 for the photo ID discussion). The GOP-dominated Legislature approved a photo ID requirement (Act 23) in 2011 but that legislation is currently on hold, pending further action in the courts.

For updates on these bills and other action on the ID front, bookmark the NCSL’s voter ID issue page, which features maps and summaries of everything you need to know.

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