MN Braces For Voter Photo ID Lawsuits, Election Chaos

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MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie

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Before Minnesota’s proposed voter photo ID constitutional amendment appears on the ballot it will probably appear on a court docket.

“I will be sued by a lot of people” says Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. He expects lawsuits over the ballot question language which doesn’t mention the provisional balloting explicitly spelled out in the constitutional amendment and the end of same day registration which is implicit in the amendment language.

“Some people call this the chaos amendment,” says Ritchie. More than a 500,000 people used same day registration in Minnesota during the last Presidential election. Under voter photo ID most of those people trying to register the same day they vote will need to vote provisionally. Ritchie says that would force local election officials to process 540,000 provisional ballots and voter registration forms ” after a really, really long day.”

“That kind of chaos is the kind of thing that has pushed local election officials to come out very strong, so far, against this,” says Ritchie.

Photo ID 18th century, not 21st century technology.

Ritchie doesn’t buy the Republican argument that requiring a government issued photo ID to vote is a 21st century voting system. “It’s really from the 18th and 19th century.” A more forward thinking system Ritchie promoted called electronic poll books received little support from Republicans. It still has visual verification of the voter at the polls, but it puts the onus on the government to provide the photo which is kept in an electronic database.

“There was a real effort to vote down or not include the technological innovation that was possible this year.”

Ritchie expressed his concern about what he deems as, ” Sweeping, broad changes to our voting system without bi-partisan support.”

Same day registration will become nearly impossible, Ritchie says, because language in the proposed constitutional amendment would require same day registrants to go through the same security checks that are imposed on preregistered voters. “The legislature could eliminate all of the double check security checks and things that are done but this is the opposite of how we want to be operating our election system in Minnesota.”

Full video of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s news conference on voter photo ID

Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera, originally from San Luis Obispo, Calif.,  studied media and Spanish at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where she earned her bachelor s. Since moving to the Twin Cities, she has been a news producer for KFAI Fresh Air Community Radio, communications coordinator for Twin Cities Public Television's arts series MN Original, and producer for the Association of Minnesota Public and Educational Radios Stations for the series MN90: Minnesota History in 90 Seconds.

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