Groups battling over Voter ID, marriage amendments worry about vote-splitters

Dan McGrath
Courtesy of Minnesota MajorityDan McGrath

There will be campaigns aplenty for the two constitutional amendments on the November ballot, but few of them will be one size fits all.

The proposed amendments – to define marriage as a union between a man and woman and to require a photo ID on Election Day – will require precision targeting of voters, many of whom are likely to split their votes on the issues.

“Absolutely that will happen,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, the lobbying juggernaut that moved the Photo ID amendment to final passage in the Legislature. The group will campaign “strictly for the photo ID,” he said, through a new committee called Protect My Vote Dot Com.

McGrath has the wind at this back on the issue. Most polls on Voter ID show 70 to 80 percent support while support for the marriage amendment runs roughly 50-50.

“The Voter ID is universally accepted across all political boundaries, while the marriage amendment cuts along party lines,” he said.

The disparity will pose a problem for Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of social issue, government and political groups opposed to the marriage amendment. They will need a carefully calibrated campaign to persuade a “no” vote on the marriage amendment without linking the arguments to Voter ID and alienating vote-splitters.   

Those voters could include members of the Minnesota Independence Party, according to party Chair Mark Jenkins. The IP takes no formal position on Voter ID but, as part of the Minnesotans United coalition, opposes the marriage amendment.

“We will just encourage Independent Party members to vote their preferences,” Jenkins said.  “Of course, our party doesn’t have the resources to do anything of major effort.”

The Minnesota Republican Party will also have limited activism on the proposed constitutional amendments, and not just because of lack of money. An article in Politico noted that the same-sex marriage debate among Congressional Republicans “is virtually a dead issue.” The Minnesota GOP may be similarly inclined to avoid the debate.   

Pat Anderson
Pat Anderson

“I can honestly say we haven’t discussed the issue,” said GOP committeewoman Pat Anderson, when asked whether the party would encourage a “yes” vote on both the marriage and Voter ID amendments. 

The Minnesota DFL will likely be the only major political entity to have a simple message on the proposed amendments. “The DFL Party is strongly opposed to both,” said party Chair Ken Martin, although he acknowledged “they are not similar in any way, shape or form.”    

Martin said the DFL will look at coordinating “vote no” efforts with other groups but will also have a solo effort aimed at defeating both amendments. What unites Democrats, he said, is that “both [amendments] are going to take away rights from people.”

He too expects many voters will cast split votes on the amendments. “The amendments each have their own different targets,” Martin said. The campaign against the marriage amendment must be unique to that issue, he said, while “the DFL and other interested groups will run an umbrella ‘vote no’ campaign.”

From now until Election Day, voters will have no shortage of information on the constitutional amendments.  The question is whether competing or even conflicting campaigns will offer clarity or confusion.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 04/04/2012 - 10:11 am.

    A little concerned

    When will we know exactly how the questions will be worded on the ballot? I’m concerned about the possibility of wording that employs a double negative and thus makes it more difficult for a voter to parse out exactly what they are voting “for” v.s. what they are voting “against”.

    • Submitted by Andrew Richner on 04/05/2012 - 10:16 am.

      Exact Wording

      Pat, here’s the text of the Voter ID amendment measure as it will appear on the ballot:

      “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require that all voters present an approved form of photographic identification prior to voting; all voters be subject to identical eligibility verification standards regardless of the time of their registration; and the state provide at no charge an approved photographic identification to eligible voters?”

  2. Submitted by Ross Williams on 04/04/2012 - 10:53 am.

    They are actually very similar

    In both cases, these amendments only effect a very small number of Minnesotans. Most of us have a picture ID already and will simply have to pull out our wallets when we go to vote. Its only a small number of eligible voters for whom this will present any difficulty.

    Likewise, the marriage amendment only effects a small number of couples. For a majority of us it will have no effect on our marriage at all.

    In short, most Minnesotans have no “skin in the game” with either of these amendments. Whether they pass or not is an academic public policy question. They both target politically weak minorities who will have to rely on the goodwill of the rest of us to protect their interests.

    • Submitted by Walt Cygan on 04/04/2012 - 01:11 pm.

      Slight disagreement

      The voter suppression amendment could catch many of us over time, for example if we move and our ID does not have the proper address because the new one is still in process. If displaying an Id is required for absentee voting (not sure how that would work), it may trip up more of us. It all depends on the wording and the enacting legislation, if it passes.

      The marriage amendment affects (discriminates against) a small number of couples directly, but those of us who know and love committed gay couples are also affected. That is a much larger number.

      Sign me up for the “NO-NO” campaign.

    • Submitted by Virginia Rudloff on 04/04/2012 - 02:56 pm.

      Another disagreement

      Just because we have an ID, doesn’t mean the amendment won’t affect us. I’m willing to bet that my mother who lives in assisted living doesn’t have a valid ID. Someone will have to make sure that it is renewed and I’m not sure she’s in any condition to go sit in line to apply for one. Since the poll is right where she lives, she can vote, but will she be able to? Any time the majority restricts the rights of the few we suffer. As individuals and as a society. We know from both the Coleman-Franken and Dayton-Emmer recounts that the counters and the courts found a minute amount of fraud in the voting process. We also know that a much larger number of legitimate voters will be barred from voting. And that “small” number of voters is too many to ignore. I’m voting for the legitimate voters by saying “NO” to voter ID.

      As for the marriage amendment, I also have “skin in that game.” Even if I didn’t already know some gay couples who do not have the protection that legal marriage affords them, I choose to live in a society that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. I choose to live in a society that is inclusive not exclusive. I choose to live in a society that “loves they neighbor as thyself.”

      • Submitted by Walt Cygan on 04/04/2012 - 04:47 pm.

        A society that “loves thy neighbor as thyself.”

        Unfortunately, our society is becoming less and less one that “loves thy neighbor as thyself.” I hope we can turn back from the brink of dog-eat-dogism. Defeating these amendments would be a start, but only a start.

    • Submitted by Arito Moerair on 04/04/2012 - 04:21 pm.

      “They both target politically weak minorities who will have to rely on the goodwill of the rest of us to protect their interests.”

      Which is exactly why these two neanderthal ideas have absolutely zero place in the constitution. That document serves to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

      You know what I’d like to see? An amendment that puts the following requirements on ALL future amendments:

      – 75% approval in house AND senate
      – signed by the governor
      – 75% approval by voters in two consecutive even-year elections (e.g., 2012 & 2014)

      This would make it much more difficult to alter the constitution. It would only allow issues through that are supported by the vast majority of people in this state. This backdoor method of governing by a majority party without the governorship is ridiculous.

  3. Submitted by Gary Clements on 04/05/2012 - 12:31 am.

    Legislating by Constitutional Amendment

    Thanks to Ms. Brucato for an insightful article, and especially to Mr. Moufang, above, for reminding us that one of the great purposes of our Constitution is the protection of the citizenry, especially those who are in minority situations of whatever kind, from a slim majority who would seek to force their ideology on the rest of us.
    The Voter ID amendment would not only bring hardship to legitimate voters who are aged, ill, or in the process of moving to a new address, it also is a thinly veiled attempt to make it more difficult for voters who are more likely to vote DFL to vote at all. The idea for this has roots in language from the ultra-conservative national group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). Look them up to see the ugly things they are really up to.
    As for the Anti-Gay Marriage amendment, what could be more spiteful than for someone who enjoys both the legal benefits and the spiritual and emotional benefits of a public union to try to make sure that others will never ever be able to share in it. And worse than that, the concept is again being used as a political tool (see the other MinnPost article in this issue about NOM…National Organization for Marriage, who ironically is AGAINST marriage, for some).
    It just angers me that people are trying to use their political power to be exclusive, rather than inclusive….. to cast aside some people because they are not cut from the same pattern….. to cut away parts of the benefits they enjoy, when there is no threat or harm to them remotely evident.
    Indeed, when I look at the popular wrist band that I have seen worn proudly… WWJD…. and I read again during this Holy Week the stories of inclusive love that were taught… I know what Jesus would Do…. and I will join the “NO _ NO” voters on these ridiculous amendments.

Leave a Reply