Voter ID opponents claimed victory early Wednesday morning with 95 percent of precincts reporting only 45.8 percent in favor of the proposed amendment that would require photographic identification for voting.
The vote ends months of campaigning from both sides of the contentious issue as Minnesota becomes the first state to reject a voter ID amendment.
“It was a hard fight, but it was a right fight, and tonight we can declare that we did it,” said Luchelle Stevens, campaign manager for Our Vote Our Future.
Dan McGrath, of Take Action MN, which opposed the amendment, attributed the success to “grassroots organizing.”
“A year and a half ago, when this polled at 80 percent, you know it was organizations with networks in communities who jumped in and who started talking to people about the facts,” McGrath said.
The amendment would have required in-person voters to provide “valid government-issued photographic identification” at the polls. If they did not have the required ID, voters could have cast a provisional ballot that would be counted if they then properly verified their identity.
Though initially far ahead in polls, the amendment fell in popularity as Election Day approached.
“I think that’s what it comes down to was a whole lot of money spent on scaring people, and it worked,” said voter ID proponent Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority.
Opponents of the measure argued that the amendment would disenfranchise voters, particularly military personnel, students and the elderly.
Proponents called this “wild speculation” and pointed to voter fraud as a reason to require photo identification.
“College students are a big part of this story — I think there was a response from students and young voters on this amendment that helped shift the momentum at a critical time and bring us to that tipping point,” said McGrath of Take Action MN.
Accounts vary widely on how much voter fraud Minnesota actually has.
Pro-voter ID McGrath said he will continue to work toward voter ID and will work with Gov. Mark Dayton to develop a proposal that he would sign.
University of Minnesota students voiced opinions both for and against the measure Tuesday.
“I voted yes for the voter ID amendment because I read that Minnesota has one of the highest rates of voter fraud in the nation — and that’s not a reputation I’d like my state to have,” said civil engineering freshman Jackie Nowak.
“I think it’s silly to put something like that in our constitution,” said second-year law student Bethany Mihalik. “I think it disenfranchises a lot of voters. Voting is a constitutional right, and I think the amount of limits we put on that should be carefully considered.”
The details and ultimate impact of the amendment would have been determined by the newly elected Minnesota Legislature.