MN Voter Restriction Amendment Faces Hurdles Beyond Ballot Box

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Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director, ACLU of Minnesota

ACLU of Minnesota Executive Director Chuck Samuelson said, “Conventional wisdom is that the (Voter Restriction) amendment will pass. But the support for the amendment is like a mud lake, it’s about five miles wide and about a quarter inch deep.”

How the voter restriction amendment could be put into practice is also just about as clear as mud.

Samuelson says if the constitutional amendment were to pass it will face several hurdles.

First the legislature will need to pass what’s called “enabling legislation” because the amendment is vague on important details such as what a “valid government issued ID” is. If Democrats were to win a majority in the House or the Senate or both, the enabling legislation would probably look very different and allow many forms of photo ID for voting. If Republicans continue to control the legislature and send Governor Mark Dayton legislation that looks much like what they sent him in 2011, it will likely suffer the same fate and be vetoed. Republicans would need to win more seats in both the House and the Senate to override a Governor’s veto. Asked what would happen if no enabling legislation was signed into law, Samuelson joked that the election might be cancelled.

Second the voter restriction constitutional amendment will likely face a legal challenge—possibly from the ACLU. Samuelson says it could be challenged as a poll tax “because you got to pay money to get your ID.” The amendment does require the state to issue a photo ID “at no charge to an eligible voter”. But getting the documents to prove you are eligible can sometimes cost money, leading Samuelson to call the “free” ID a “charade.”

Samuelson says that the driver’s license was never meant to be an identity card. A police officer once told him, “This is not an identity card son. This is proof that the person who looks like the person in the picture is minimally qualified to operate a motor vehicle in Minnesota.” There are a significant number of voters who do not have driver’s or any government issued photo ID.

No current valid photo ID

He further commented, “I think if the Republicans have their way, same day registration will disappear These provisional ballots are the biggest joke in the world! It’s a fraud, a bait and switch as the Supreme Court Justice Mr. Page said.”

He noted, “Vouching has been used in this country since the first election.” If in error there are serious jail time offenses for either person. “You’re betting with your freedom” says Samuelson. Voter Restriction Amendment supporters have ridiculed the vouching system, particularly the fact that one person can vouch for up to 15 people. Originally there was no limit but in the 70s the law was changed in a bi-partisan way to limit to 15. Fifteen is the normal ratio for patients to staff in a residential facility so this allowed facility staff to ensure everyone had a chance to vote.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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