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Secretary of State Mark Ritchie renames Photo ID amendment, too

Mark Ritchie
MinnPost file photo by Jay WeinerSecretary of State Mark Ritchie

The Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday that it was renaming the controversial Photo ID amendment, which is set to appear on the ballot in November if it survives a Minnesota Supreme Court challenge.

If Secretary of State Mark Ritchie gets his way, the amendment’s title on the ballot will appear as: “Changes to in-person & absentee voting & voter registration; provisional ballots.”

Last month, Ritchie changed the name of the other proposed constitutional amendment set to appear on the ballot, the so-called marriage amendment.

The Legislature included its own title when it passed the Photo ID amendment in April: “Photo identification required for voting.”

The secretary of state has the power to name constitutional amendments, according to Ritchie’s office, but they must also be approved by the state attorney general.

Opponents of the amendment said the title accurately describes the changes to the election system that Photo ID would cause.

“It’s certainly more descriptive” than the GOP-backed title,” said Greta Bergstrom, a spokeswoman for TakeAction Minnesota, which opposes the amendment. “I think it gives voters a picture of what they’re voting on.”

Supporters of the amendment criticized Ritchie for showing his bias against Photo ID in the ballot question title.

“I do find it unfortunate because he’s showing his bias in a big way,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, a group that supports Photo ID. “The title he’s proposed, I believe, is misleading.”

McGrath said its likely Photo ID supporters would challenge the name in court, as marriage amendment proponents announced they would do for that ballot question on Monday.

Ritchie renamed the marriage amendment “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.”

“Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman” appeared on the Republican-backed amendment that passed the Legislature in 2011.

Monday’s announcement means both questions slated to appear on the ballot in November are in litigation.

The Republican-led Legislature in June voted to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Photo ID opponents to have the amendment stricken from the ballot. Supreme Court arguments begin on July 17.

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Comments (15)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/09/2012 - 02:30 pm.

    Jettisoning his duties.

    While I don’t think it was legal, and don’t like his newspeak, Ritchie’s word machinations with the marriage amendment language cannot be said to have been (overtly) mendacious.

    That is not the case with the Voter ID language. Unable to come up with verbage that cast the preferred cloud on the question, he chose to remove the description all together. His purpose is clearly to confuse voters.

    Now we can see what George Soros saw in Mark Ritchie when he agreed to donate a bale of cash to his campaign…there is no line he won’t cross to ensure an outcome acceptable to the Democrats.

  2. Submitted by Steve Roth on 07/09/2012 - 02:47 pm.


    Accurately describes what the GOP is trying to do with both ammendments. Much needed.

    • Submitted by Aaron B on 07/12/2012 - 03:56 pm.

      Step outside your opinion.


      Why do you think Mr. Ritchie is changing the wording?

      • Submitted by Jay McHue on 07/14/2012 - 06:18 pm.

        I don’t know about Steve

        I’m certain he wants to change the title in order to influence the outcome of the ballot measure. Such a devious, manipulative tactic should be illegal.

  3. Submitted by Steve Florman on 07/09/2012 - 04:15 pm.

    Actually, I disagree with Mr Swift, but only to the extent that I think his change to the Marriage Amendment title wording was also overtly mendacious. Words have meaning, and Ritchie knows it. Rather than keep a title that actually captures the wording of the amendment himself, he chooses a title that deliberately emphasizes negative, exclusionary language. He might as well have called it the “Homophobic Bigotry Amendment.”

    Whether you support or oppose the amendments, simple integrity should compel you to concede that Ritchie’s actions are dishonest in both cases. But, then, he’s made no pretense of neutrality. A few days ago, there were news reports questioning his ability to be objective and run a fair election on the Photo ID amendment. He insisted that he could. Now this comes up.

    The reason politicians get away with this crap is not because their opponents don’t call them on it, it’s because their own supporters let them get away with it because “it’s for the right reasons.” Every opponent of those two amendments who is making apologies for Ritchie’s unethical actions right now is contributing to that problem.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 07/10/2012 - 11:23 am.

      Negative exclusionary language

      The reason the title emphasizes negative exclusionary language is because its a negative exclusionary amendment. We are voting on whether to amend the constitution to restrict the civil rights of certain people. Ritchie’s title is far more accurate (and neutral) than the one chosen by the legislature. There is nothing to apologize for.

      • Submitted by Aaron B on 07/12/2012 - 04:01 pm.

        What are homosexuals missing?

        Everyone always says: Don’t restrict civil rights.

        Ok, I’m all for that, honestly. But they already have the right to live/be together. What else are they missing? Is it the title? That’s what it seems to me.

        Honest question.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/09/2012 - 05:09 pm.

    I wonder if that title

    was Ritchie’s idea or if George Soros came up with it.

    But the democrats are right about one thing. Once the Voter ID is passed, the fraud known as same day registration is next on the agenda.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 07/09/2012 - 10:16 pm.


      ALEC created this nonsense. The fraud is completely republican; give them enough political corporate money, the republicans will do anything. Likke online education – sound familiar.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/09/2012 - 05:34 pm.

    Homophobic Bigotry Amendment

    Good suggestion!

  6. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 07/09/2012 - 08:28 pm.

    Unanswered questions about the ID amendment

    You can call an amendment anything, but a responsible Secretary of State will retitle it (as is his right) to reflect its actual content. If there actually are all those changes included in the amendment, not just the requirement for a photo ID, voters should know that they are not voting ONLY for a photo ID requirement but for a raft of other things at the same time.

    If Ritchie’s title accurately reflects the content of the amendment, if the proposal is really to make all those changes, then one wonders why the Republicans object to the title change unless they’re trying to slip something past us.

    Furthermore, the amendment raises some questions. Currently, there is no single ID in existence that both proves one’s citizenship and proves one’s current address.

    A passport or birth certificate proves citizenship, but a birth certificate does not prove one’s current address, and while a passport has a blank for one’s current address, the passport holder is asked to write it in pencil and change it as necessary.

    A driver’s license may prove one’s current address–IF the license holder has gone through the address change procedure after moving–but it says nothing about citizenship. There are plenty of legal immigrants or temporary foreign residents (company transfers, students, etc.) who hold Minnesota driver’s licenses but are not U.S. citizens.

    Would the Republican amendment require everyone to carry several forms of ID or would their proposal require the state to create a new bureaucracy to issue an ID that would prove both citizenship and current address, and would every adult citizen in Minnesota be required to obtain one?

    Or–more likely–would some of the Republican legislators’ friends jump into the picture with a brand-new company that would happily take over the job of providing a couple million people (and new ones each year, as immigrants become citizens and young people reach the age of 18) with approved ID’s for a hefty price?

    Given the Republicans’ professed hatred of state bureaucracy, I suspect that they want to create a business opportunity for some friends.

    In any case, the people of Minnesota deserve to know exactly what is in the amendment, and if the Republicans are trying to hide what it is in it, then shame on them.

    • Submitted by Jay McHue on 07/14/2012 - 06:16 pm.


      “If Ritchie’s title accurately reflects the content of the amendment, if the proposal is really to make all those changes, then one wonders why the Republicans object to the title change unless they’re trying to slip something past us.”

      Why not the other way around? Maybe the Republicans’ title accurately reflects the content of the amendment (which it does) and Ritchie is trying to slip something past us (which he is — namely an attempt to underhanded influence the outcome of the ballot measure).

  7. Submitted by scott gibson on 07/09/2012 - 09:08 pm.

    Political move? Yes

    What Ritchie has done with the naming of these amendments is, undeniably, political. I would prefer neither amendment existed to be voted on, as the motives behind both seem specious, political and mean-spirited. Ritchie is defending his turf. His move is partisan, and probably won’t change many, if any, votes. Still, sticking amendments onto the ballot without working with the minority representatives or the governor was a blatant end run around the legislative process.

    Mr. Swift & Mr. Tester could not comment without invoking George Soros, whom they seem to feel is the puppet-master of all things Democratic. I doubt there is any connection whatsoever. The Rebpublicans set this in motion. We could, however, refer to many of the misguided Republican agenda items as being driven by the American Legislative Exchange Council. There is hard evidence of that.

    As to hoping to end same-day voter registration, come November, I sincerely hope these ‘grand ideas’ of the regressives are laid to rest. I fully expect the DFL to regain one or both houses. Game over.

  8. Submitted by Joe Williams on 07/09/2012 - 10:26 pm.

    Words are important.

    No matter what the Secretary of State decides to label the amendments, we can be sure that passage of these critical amendments will quickly assuage the concerns of the job creators who have been so crippled by uncertainty about gays voting illegally that they have found it impossible to hire people.

    It’s a distraction, and the GOP and the Tea Party are walking hand in hand towards the ruin of the country, all the while congratulating themselves on how they stopped “teh gays” from getting married and 4 felons from voting.

  9. Submitted by Rich Crose on 07/10/2012 - 11:07 am.

    I suggest:

    “All men are created equal except homosexuals” and “All men are created equal except people without government issued photo IDs”

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