Support For Proposed MN Voting Restrictions Dwindling

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Click on picture to see debate highlights

Click on picture to see debate highlights

Support for Minnesota’s proposed voter restriction constitutional amendment is down drastically and the latest one shows it has less than the needed 50% approval. Opponents of the amendment credit some of the change to a more educated public. A recent debate at the William Mitchell College of Law is part of that educational outreach.

At the November 1 debate, Shannon Doty, a third-year law student, argued “it’s like using my M4 to shoot at a quarter-sized spider in my living area. It’s a bit of overkill; it is not necessary when I could just squish it with a Kleenex.”

She aimed her comment at amendment supporters who tried to make their case for implementing the nation’s most restrictive voter ID law.

Attorney William Z. Pentelovitch agreed with Doty’s assessment of the amendment supporters’ logic. “You people terrify me.”

The heated debate vehemently renewed the statements that have been made on both sides of this controversial amendment. Supporters claim massive fraud, opponents point out there is no proven voter impersonation fraud in Minnesota, the only kind of fraud the amendment prevents. They say the amendment is not needed and it’s also costly and restricts voting.

Dan Severson, former legislator and 2008 candidate for Minnesota Secretary of State, stated, “We have voter fraud in Minnesota. Minnesota is the number one offender in the nation.” Severson’s statistic is apparently based upon Minnesota’s very successful record of prosecuting felons for voting, something even the author of the “Voter ID” constitutional amendment admits it won’t prevent.

The invisible busload of illegal voters

Severson also revived the conservative tale about buses of people going from polling place to polling place and voting illegally. The New York Times has reviewed such claims from various election fraud groups’ “gospel” and says “it might as well be Harry Potter’s invisible Knight Bus, because no one can prove it exists.” Severson implies that was happening in Minnesota because buses pull up to precincts with voters, one person vouches for them and then “they move on.” Buses from nursing homes do often arrive at Minnesota polling places and one nursing home worker can vouch for up to 15 people.

Marjorie Holsten, Attorney and GOP lobbyist, said, “One of the advantages to have the amendment to the constitution is that a judge later can’t declare the constitution unconstitutional.”

Rabbi Esther Adler, D.Div., rabbi at Mount Zion Temple, St. Paul, and associate chaplain at Hamline University, said, “Voting is a right, not a privilege. You shouldn’t have to be a privileged person to vote.”

Dan Harper, second-year law student and staffer for Rep. Chip Cravaack, “If you have a problem with it, amend the constitution again to make it more difficult to pass constitutional amendments.”

Holsten said, “I’m going to do all possible to encourage the legislature to pass right-to-work legislation. Would I like to see more constitutional amendments? Yes, that’s one I’d like to see.”

Severson: “When a person goes in to vote two, three, four times, that person is disenfranchising your vote.”

Pentelovitch: “There are no proven cases of voter fraud in Minnesota.”

The amendment is on Tuesday’s ballot. It takes a majority of people voting in the election to approve it. So not voting on the amendment essentially counts as a no vote.

Supporting panel members:
Marjorie Holsten, lawyer, Republican lobbyist.
Ben Harper, second-year law student, worked for Michele Bachmann, Tom Emmer and currently for Rep. Chip Cravaack.
Dan Severson, Retired Navy Pilot, former legislator and 2008 candidate for Secretary of State.

Opposing panel members:
William Z. Pentelovitch, Business trial lawyer, represented Senator Al Franken in 2010 recount.
Rabbi Esther Adler, D.Div., Rabbi at Mount Zion Temple, St. Paul and Associate Chaplain, Hamline University.
Shannon Doty, third-year law student. Served in Afghanistan with U.S. armed forces.
Link to details on participants.

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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