What might the voter ID political campaign look like?

Voter ID amendment
A small group of people who oppose the voter ID amendment stand outside the House chamber in protest as representatives begin to debate the amendment Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at the State Capitol.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Republicans in the Minnesota House passed a proposed constitutional amendment early Wednesday morning that would require all voters to show photo identification at the polls.

The party line vote of 72-62 came after a nine-hour debate. The Senate could pass the same bill in coming days, which would then place the issue on the statewide ballot in November.

All the votes to date, in committee and on the floor, have been party-line, with Republicans supporting the measure. That suggests the measure is likely to pass the GOP-led Senate, which puts it on the ballot.

If we are heading for a vote this fall with a voter ID amendment on the ballot, what would that campaign look like? And how would that campaign compare with the campaign that will be had for the marriage amendment that is already on the ballot?

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Ed Schiappa, chairman of the Communications Studies department at the University of Minnesota, said supporters of voter ID will likely use what he calls a campaign of fear about voter abuse and fraud.

"They're going to present it as a common-sense sort of thing," he said, that "it's just common sense that people should present a photo ID to vote, and that will be their message... to make it seem as reasonable as possible."

Those opposed to the amendment will use a two-fold approach, Schiappa said.

They will argue "that it's unnecessary and there's no evidence of voter fraud requiring dramatic new action," he said. "And secondly, that it would be counterproductive in that it will decrease certain people's ability to vote - people who are elderly or poor or other populations that historically don't carry the ID that the voter ID law is required. They might add the argument that Minnesota traditionally has been to make it easy as possible to vote - same-day registration is a good example of that."

Schiappa also said more emotional appeals -- those that use personal stories -- are better used on broadcast media, while the more matter-of-fact, informational appeals work best in print.