GOP Accuses Secretary of State Ritchie of “Going Deep into Orwellian Playbook”

Sen. Barb Goodwin calls GOP hearing an "issue over nothing". Click her photo to watch video highlights

Text by Jacob Wheeler, Video by Allison Herrera
Minnesota’s Republican State Senators put Voter Photo ID and anti-same sex marriage constitutional amendments on this November’s ballot. Now they’re upset that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie changed the wording of the proposed amendments to give them more descriptive titles that reflect their consequences for everyday Minnesotans.

State Senator Mike Parry, who is locked in a heated primary battle in his run for U.S. Congress, held a hearing Friday morning to attack Ritchie — and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, who approved the amendment name changes. Parry and GOP Senators Scott Newman, Gen Olson, Paul Gazelka, Ted Lillie and David Thompson accused the state election officials of using public funds to fight a partisan battle against the Voter ID measure.

Newman cited media reports of Ritchie’s visits with county election officials statewide, claiming that the Secretary of State outspokenly opposed the amendment even though his job is to uphold laws passed by the legislature. Parry added that Ritchie’s job is train election officials, not to voice his opinions. Lillie accused Ritchie of “going deep into the Orwellian playbook” to obscure the intent of Voter ID laws.

Democratic State Senator Barb Goodwin countered that it is the Secretary of State’s responsibility to explain what effect the Voter Photo ID amendment would have if implemented. Goodwin added that the Voter ID law would limit free speech and adversely impact senior citizens, active-duty military and college students. Fellow Democrat Patricia Torres Ray expressed her displeasure with the hearings in general, implying they were a waste of Minnesota taxpayer money.

Though Parry summoned Ritchie and Swanson to appear before the committee, each sent legal representatives on their behalf. Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board executive director Gary Goldsmith also spoke at the hearing, but deflected legal questions to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which on July 31 will discuss whether the Secretary of State overstepped his bounds.

At top of page:video highlights of the hearing.
Below:video of entire hearing


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