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Opponents file court brief on Photo ID amendment

Groups opposing Minnesota’s Photo ID amendment filed a brief Monday with the state Supreme Court making their case for why the secretary of state should be prohibited from putting the ballot question before voters in November.

Attorneys for the groups —which include Common Cause Minnesota and the League of Women Voters — submitted the brief in preparation for the July 17 oral arguments.

The groups originally filed the lawsuit in May, arguing that the ballot question lawmakers crafted doesn’t accurately describe the actual effects of the amendment.

The brief responds to claims from the Legislature — the court allowed both chambers to intervene in the lawsuit in June — that argue the court doesn’t have the authority to reject the Republican-backed ballot question.

“Not only should this Court consider the actual meaning and effects of the amendment, it also should be skeptical of the Legislature’s assertion as to the amendment’s ‘objective,’ ” according to Monday’s brief.

Amendment opponents argue that the lawmakers who drafted the amendment intentionally held back information during legislative floor debates and committee hearings in order to mislead voters.

“The Legislature was repeatedly warned of the ballot question’s deficiencies and still the Legislature intentionally chose to make false and incomplete representations in the ballot question,” the brief says.

Opponents also argue that the question’s general language omits serious consequences that the amendment would enact. Those “deficiencies,” they say, include: the implementation of provisional balloting and the potential elimination of Election Day registration (EDR).

By omitting portions of the amendment’s constitutional language, “The Legislature is intentionally concealing this material purpose and the effect of the amendment,” according to the brief. “Plainly, photo ID is the Legislature’s Trojan horse to eliminate EDR.”

Photo ID proponents, however, say that the Legislature should only have to identify the amendment’s “general subject” and that other, more vague questions have been on the ballot before. More than 200 amendments have been brought before voters since Minnesota became a state.

 The proponents’ court filing also argues that the Supreme Court shouldn’t breach the separation of powers by encroaching into the Legislature’s authority to draft constitutional amendments. A decision is likely in August.

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