Bill would improve voting standards

A committee passed an amendment altering Election Day voting requirements.

Providing proof of residency and identification at the next election could be as simple as showing a cell phone bill.

The Minnesota Senate Elections Committee passed an amendment Monday that would make voting requirements for college students easier and more efficient come Election Day.

The amendment will be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.

“Most college students have a cell phone bill, and anything that can facilitate anyone to come out to vote is a good thing,” said economics junior Ian McLellan, vice president of Students Against Political Ignorance.

Currently, the acceptable forms of identification include a Minnesota state ID or driver’s license, a utility bill or lease from one’s place of residency and a bank statement or government check, said Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, the bill’s chief author.

The bill’s voter requirements would also give students the option of submitting their personal voter identification information to the county where they live.

The personal information would include the voter’s name, age and address.

A list would then be generated to keep track of the addresses of college students, regardless of whether they were residents or nonresidents of Minnesota.

The University will give students authorization forms to sign for the release of their personal information. The county cannot receive students’ personal information without those forms.

Sen. Dave Kleis, R-St. Cloud, agreed with the bill, saying students should have the right to vote on issues that affect them as students in a college community.

“You should vote where you live, and for four years, they are living at their college address,” he said.

An election judge could verify a college student’s residency and identification by using this list.

The submitted personal information would be available to the public, just like voter registration information of permanent state residents, Higgins said.

Kent Ortner, president of Students Against Political Ignorance, said the new requirements will definitely increase voter turnout.

“My friends did not vote, because they didn’t know how to get registered,” said Ortner, who is a junior at the University.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said there are “thousands of excuses” a college student can make to not vote.

“The fewer barriers you put in there, the better for voter participation,” he said.