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St. Paul weighs in on Voter ID court case, says proposed amendment is bad

The City of St. Paul has filed an amicus brief that argues against the proposed  Voter ID constitutional amendment as part of a case that will be heard by the state Supreme Court.

The city questions the legality of the language in the constitutional amendment, and says the wording does not clearly state the effect it would have on college students, veterans and seniors.

The brief was filed in the case of League of Women Voters of Minnesota v. Mark Ritchie.

Said Mayor Chris Coleman: "This misguided amendment is a solution in search of a problem. It will have far-reaching negative effects that will be felt by our seniors, veterans and students who will find it more and more difficult to cast a ballot. If this amendment were passed, the ballots of more than 6,200 Saint Paul voters would be called into question. In a city where elections are sometimes decided by fewer than 40 votes, these numbers are significant. Minnesota is known for having the best voting system in the country. We should not put up unnecessary barriers for citizens to cast their ballots."

The city also claims that Gov. Mark Dayton's original veto of the proposed legislation and wording of the amendment should be sustained, even though it was later bypassed by the Republican-led Legislature by turning the issue into a proposed constitutional amendment, which cannot be vetoed.

"The governor vetoed both the title of the constitutional amendment, and the actual question to be put before the voters," St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said. "As such, the so-called ‘Photo-ID’ question is not authorized by law and should not be placed on the ballot. The Minnesota Supreme Court should order that this bill be sent back to the Legislature for a veto override or further legislative clarification."

And the brief argues that the ballot language does not accurately describe the amendment’s effects on college students, active military members living overseas and seniors, who would face challenges to vote if the amendment passes. And it mentions the extra cost of monitoring elections, if the amendment passes.

The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case July 17, with the hope that the issue can be resolved before ballots are printed for the November election.

Among the issues raised by the original opponents: wording on the ballot doesn’t notify voters that the amendment would implement a bulky provisional balloting system, doesn’t specify that a government-issued ID is required to vote and doesn’t note that the measure could end Election Day registration. 

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