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With no presidential contest, DFL caucus-goers focus on issues

Some activists took the precinct meetings as an opportunity to help define the party’s statewide message.

DFL caucus-goer Maria Oakenfels

DFL caucus-goers across Minnesota didn’t have the same presidential excitement their Republican counterparts did Tuesday night, but some activists took the precinct meetings as an opportunity to help define the party’s statewide message.

With GOP-backed constitutional amendments up for debate in the 2012 election — including one that restricts marriage to a man and a woman and one that could require a photo ID to vote — DFLers in turn used their caucuses to marshal a response.

TakeAction Minnesota, a liberal organization that opposes the Voter ID amendment, announced Tuesday afternoon that more than 300 of its members would introduce resolutions opposing the measure in caucuses across the state.

Such resolutions eventually help set the party’s platform.

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“It’s a matter of protecting the voice of the 99% to make things better in our state now and in future generations,” Executive Director Dan McGrath said in the statement.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison on Monday also unveiled a resolution that opposed Voter ID and urged caucus-goers to bring it up for a vote in their precincts. TakeAction Minnesota plans to  hold a press conference today opposing the measure.

At a precinct caucus in the Southeast Como neighborhood of Minneapolis, resident Maria Ockenfels presented the resolution opposing Voter ID to her neighbors. It passed unanimously.

“I think that it’s really going to hinder those individuals that can’t get out,” she said after the caucus ended. “I think it’s very important that a person has the opportunity … to vote.”

In addition to Voter ID, the precinct’s 40 or so caucus-goers — a mix of college students and long-term residents — also brought forward several other measures: one against housing foreclosures, one on companies that exceed pollution permits, and one supporting Ranked Choice Voting. All passed.

Surprisingly, a resolution against the controversial marriage amendment wasn’t discussed during the meeting.

“I’m sure if it would have been brought forward, it would have passed,” said Precinct Chairwoman Katie Fournier. “Maybe somebody thought, ‘Oh, somebody else is going to do that.”