UPDATE: Fight over voter ID heating up in Minnesota

8/6/2012: Voter ID supporters have accused Secretary of State Mark Ritchie of unlawfully altering the ballot measure’s title. In a Senate hearing about Ritchie’s actions, they claimed that the legislature has the exclusive right to draft ballot measures. However, a bipartisan group of law professors pointed out that the state constitution mandates that the Secretary "provide an appropriate title" for ballot questions. The Minnesota Supreme Court reviewed the issue in late July. A ruling is expected later this month.

7/26/2012:The Elections Committee of the Minneapolis City Council has released a report on the ballot measure. While it does not take a position for or against, it does highlight a lack of clarity and the substantial costs and administrative burdens of implementation. Oral arguments have been heard in the relevant litigation. A decision is expected soon, as state officials have said they need to begin preparing the ballots by late August. Meanwhile, grassroots groups like TakeAction Minnesota are fighting back against this attempt to suppress the vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, and five Minnesota voters have challenged an amendment to the Minnesota constitution (HF 2738, sponsored by ALEC State Chairwoman Mary Kiffmeyer) because it would confuse some voters into believing that prohibited forms of identification, such as student or company ID, would be accepted. The plaintiffs argue that the amendment is misleading and false because the ballot language references valid photo identification while the amendment uses the phrase government-issued.

With oral arguments in the case set for July 17, several prominent Minnesotans have joined the fray, including former Presidential candidate, Vice President, and US Senator Walter Mondale:

Minnesota has the best record of openness, of honesty, of voter participation, of any state in the union. This is a clean, solid, exemplary state. This constitutional amendment is designed to discourage voting.

And former Governor Arne Carlson:

"It comes from the Koch brothers,'' said Carlson, referring to David and Charles Koch, owners of Koch Industries and major funders of a number of conservative causes nationally.

"This is an outside force, coming to Minnesota, telling us how our Constitution ought to be designed," added Carlson.

Mondale and Carlson will help lead the Our Vote Our Future coalition against the ballot measure, which University of Minnesota student research has cautioned will fundamentally change the state’s election system.

For more information, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.

PFAW Foundation