Legal Challenge To MN Voter Photo ID Amendment

]Minnesota’s Supreme Court is being asked to stop a voter photo ID constitutional amendment from appearing on the fall ballot because the ballot question is misleading. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, along with League of Women Voters Minnesota, Jewish Community Action and Common Cause Minnesota are petitioning the court to review the ballot question.

“This ballot proposal is incredibly troubling because it asks voters to put an amendment in the constitution in a manner that is misleading, confusing and unclear,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN.

The petition says there are three serious omissions and three misleading statements in the ballot question, including saying it would apply to all voters when it only applies to people who vote in person and not even mentioning a provisional ballot system that will significantly change how Minnesota elections are conducted.

Lawsuit should be no surprise to amendment authors.

The lawsuit isn’t a surprise. During the partisan battle over the amendment at the legislature Democrats argued that the ballot measure should include mention of the new provisional balloting system the amendment requires. After the measure passed the legislature with only Republican votes supporting it, Representative Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) said its possible Minnesota’s Supreme Court could strike the proposed voter photo ID constitutional amendment from the ballot because of the way it is worded.

Simon says the question that would appear on the ballot makes no mention of provisional ballots or that the photo IDs need to be government issued. He says the court may also try to rewrite the language that would appear on the ballot.

Full video of news conference announcing legal action

Listen to interview with Common Cause’s Mike Dean following the news conference:

Press release from the the ACLU of Minnesota:
The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a petition seeking to strike a constitutional voting amendment from November’s ballot because it is misleading and fails to inform voters of changes in election laws that could compromise people’s fundamental right to vote.

“This ballot proposal is incredibly troubling because it asks voters to put an amendment in the constitution in a manner that is misleading, confusing and unclear,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. “Voting is one of the most important rights we have, and this amendment aims to take away that right from the most vulnerable, under the guise of a seemingly innocuous photo ID requirement.”

“The Minnesota State Legislature isn’t telling voters the truth about its proposed photo ID requirement for voting, and they have a right to know,” said Jon Sherman, staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “Not only is this part of a wave of laws that have already had a severe impact on the right to vote nationwide, but this particular amendment effectively spells the end of Election Day registration, which significantly increases turnout.”

The petition was filed in the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Jewish Community Action and Common Cause Minnesota, as well as five individual plaintiffs: Gabriel Herbers, Shannon Doty, Gretchen Nickence, John Harper Ritten, and Kathryn Ibur.

In April, the Minnesota legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would change the state’s election laws in several ways, including requiring individuals to present certain government-issued photo ID before receiving an in-person ballot. The ballot question is unreasonable and misleading because it erroneously describes some of the changes, while failing to even mention other fundamental changes:

· It only mentions “valid ID,” but the amendment requires a “government-issued ID,” which means voters could be misled into thinking some IDs are valid.
· It fails to disclose that there will be a verification process that could essentially end Election Day registration, and that there will be a new and costly provisional ballot system.
· It incorrectly describes who has to present an ID.

“The League of Women Voters Minnesota joined this petition because a fundamental part of our mission is to educate voters,” said Stacy Doepner-Hove, President of the League of Women Voters. “When you have a ballot question that is unclear on what it means or how it will be enacted, it makes it impossible for any voter to fully understand the consequences.”

Attorneys in the case are: William Pentelovitch, Richard Wilson, Justin Perl, Wayne Moskowitz, Alain Baudry and Catherine Ahlin-Halverson of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP and Jon Sherman and Laughlin McDonald of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU of Minnesota.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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