In the wake of Minnesota's rejection of a voter restriction amendment and remarkable voter turnout, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) reintroduced two bills to strengthen voting rights in federal elections this week. The bills are the first that Rep. Ellison will be introducing in the 113th Congress.
Both bills, The Same Day Registration Act and The Voter Access Protection Act, would combat the effort to restrict voting rights. The Same Day Registration Act would require states to provide same-day voter registration for federal elections, modeled on current law in Minnesota. The Voter Access Protection Act would prohibit election officials from requiring photo identification to cast a vote or register to vote.
"In November, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to reject a voter restriction amendment. Minnesota also led the country in voter turnout, with over 76% of Minnesotans voting in November's election, in part due to same day voter registration," Rep. Ellison said. "I am proud to reintroduce two bills based on Minnesota's good example that expand instead of restrict voting rights for all Americans. Our country has gained far too much to turn back and make it harder for Americans to vote."
Seventeen percent of all Minnesota voters registered on election day in 2012. If these voters had not been allowed to register, Minnesota's turnout would have dropped by 14 points. In November's election, turnout was nearly 8% higher in states that had same day registration.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as 11% of eligible voters do not have government issued photo ID, with even higher percentages for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students.