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Will the voting amendment dismantle Minnesota’s current election system?

voter voting
REUTERS/Darren Hauck
Is Secretary of State Mark Ritchie right in his interpretation of what the proposed voting amendment would do?

Ever since the Legislature first began considering the proposed voting amendment early this year, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and his staff have used nearly every venue available to hammer away on one key point.

The innocuous-sounding requirement that voters must show a photo ID at the polls, they say, is only a small part of far-reaching language that actually would end up dismantling or significantly altering absentee balloting and Minnesota’s popular Election Day registration system.

Mark Ritchie

Ritchie made that point again Thursday in a MinnPost Community Voices piece, urging every voter to “carefully study the language of the proposed amendment on elections …. You might be surprised.”

But the big question: Is Ritchie right in his interpretation of what the proposed constitutional amendment would do?

Many voting amendment opponents think so, including a coalition of groups and individuals that include former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Gov. Arne Carlson and several public officials. The group Our Vote Our Future is leading the anti-amendment campaign.

Most recently, two Minnesota Supreme Court justices weighed in on the matter, issuing vigorous dissents in two court cases that cleared the way for the amendment to appear on the November ballot in the form its Republican backers had hoped. One dissenting justice, Alan Page, labeled the amendment a “classic case of bait and switch” for not disclosing the far-reaching impact of the election changes.

Not true, though, argue the amendment’s proponents, including two key legislators and the citizens group Minnesota Majority, which runs a committee campaigning to pass it. They say the amendment was carefully worded to preserve Election Day registration and absentee balloting, among other forms of voting that Ritchie says could be affected.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state and one of the sponsors of the ballot initiative, contends that “the essence of the constitutional amendment is Photo ID … pure and simple.”  Rep. Keith Downey, in a recent Pioneer Press op ed piece, criticized Ritchie’s descriptions of the measure’s consequences, calling them “pure scare tactics” and “outlandish partisan politics.”

Most at issue is the legal meaning of six words (shown in boldface) in the last sentence of the amendment’s language: “All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.”

Does phrase hurt or help?

Ritchie and amendment opponents argue that the short phrase is the reason that many of the elections systems that Minnesotans rely on today would have to end.

Kiffmeyer and other supporters, however, say the language is actually the key to keeping Election Day registration and not- in-person voting intact.

Doug Chapin
Doug Chapin

Doug Chapin, an elections expert at the University of Minnesota, takes a more cautious view than either the advocates or opponents of the amendment.

He said there’s no way to be sure how absentee, mail-in or military voting would be affected by the “substantially equivalent” language, or what will happen to Election Day registration.

“The first question that has to be answered is what does ‘substantially equivalent’ mean?” he said, noting that the interpretation of a seemingly common-sense string of words in legislation “can be big.”

And if voters approve the measure, both sides are prepared for more Capitol fights over enabling legislation that would be required to implement it — and for eventual lawsuits.

“In some ways, they’re both right,” Chapin said. “It’s an ID law which could result in major or significant changes to Minnesota election law, but … we won’t know for sure who’s right, or if either one of them is right, until” it passes in November, is defined by the Legislature and challenged in the courts.

“The devil is in the details,” he added.

Supporters, opponents make their case

Both sides can make cases for why their respective interpretations of the amendment’s potential effects are correct.

Ritchie and his team are convinced the proposed amendment could spell doom for same-day registration — a process that some say sets Minnesota ahead of most states in terms of election administration.

To the secretary, requiring a photographic ID to vote isn’t the amendment’s intended effect, contrary to what Republicans repeated throughout the laborious legislative and legal journey it took to bring the question before voters.

“It’s consistent with 10 or 12 years of other efforts to eliminate Election Day registration,” he said.

Through the legislative committee process, Ritchie and his staff constantly pointed out what they see as the amendment’s potential flaws.

By some estimates, the amendment could change how nearly 1 million Minnesotans cast their ballots, all because of the six disputed words.

Under current law, Election Day registrants’ eligibility is fully verified after their ballots have been cast and counted, Ritchie said.

To fully verify eligibility, a non-forwardable mailing, called a Postal Verification Card, is sent to the addresses provided by all newly registered voters who applied early or on Election Day. The office also checks information against state and federal databases, some of which require special access.

With the equivalency language in effect, Ritchie said, it’s difficult to imagine Election Day verification at a polling place that would be “equivalent” to pre-registration, thus forcing about 540,000 voters to cast provisional ballots.

With a voter turnout of nearly 3 million in the 2008 presidential election, Minnesota’s election system could become clogged with provisional ballots — which wouldn’t be counted until after a voter provides the proper identification or eligibility information.

Under such a system, election results in close races could be delayed for days.

“Nobody’s going to know who won any of the elections [for days] afterwards,” Secretary of State staffer Beth Fraser told a legislative committee in February. “I know that people are on pins and needles on Election Night. That feeling is going to last for quite a while if we don’t know for … days who won anything in Minnesota from governor down to school board.”

Following the same logic, Ritchie also questions how the state’s 250,000 military, overseas, mail-in and absentee voters could possibly provide the “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification” as someone who presents an ID in person to an election judge at the polling place.

“Other states have always exempted those not voting in person because ... how would you subject somebody in Thailand or somebody in Kuwait City or somebody in Bogota, Colombia, to the same identity and eligibility verification process as somebody walking into your township in Cottonwood, Minnesota?” he said.

And with these significant changes to voting systems, opponents say, come equally significant costs.

A report last week from Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, which opposes the amendment, estimates that rolling out the new system could cost at least $36.5 million and possibly as much as $77.6 million for state and local governments.

The costs alone for preserving Election Day registration — based on scenarios ranging from its total elimination to requiring significant technological investments to save it — range from $23 million to about $50 million.

If for some reason Election Day registration were completely eliminated, Minnesota’s exemption from the National Voter Registration Act would be revoked.

That would require the Department of Motor Vehicles and agencies that provide public support to offer and track voter registration services. “[T]he cost of losing the NVRA exemption, which is unprecedented, could reach millions of dollars,” according to the report.

“It’s interpreting one sentence, but I think it is fair to raise the concern,” said Steven Carbó, a state advocacy director at Demos, a New York-based think tank. “It’s a legitimate concern that Election Day registration in Minnesota could be unraveled, and if it is unraveled, one of the consequences could be losing the NVRA exemption and having to create something that doesn’t exist today.”

‘Solutions’ to the ‘problems’?

Kiffmeyer vehemently denies that the proposed amendment would end or alter same-day registration or complicate not-in-person voting.

And in the time since the session ended, supporters have offered a clearer picture of how the forms of voting that Democrats say are in jeopardy would continue.

Dan McGrath
Dan McGrath

Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, which supports the amendment, ticked off in an interview a list of potential solutions to DFLers’ complaints.

“It presumes that voters will be verified instantly in the polling place and given a live ballot,” said McGrath, who helped write the amendment. “Only voters who lack ID will be given a provisional ballot. Ninety percent of Election Day registrants will notice no difference in the process.”

The Postal Verification Card system could be eliminated next session, he said, and technological upgrades could be added at polling places to ensure only eligible voters cast a ballot on Election Day.

Or, a so-called paper “challenge list” of ineligible voters — such as felons and non-citizens — could be compiled from database information and kept at polling places to disqualify same-day registrants who don’t meet the criteria to vote. That arrangement would negate the need for expensive technology upgrades.

The supporters also scoff at the eye-popping cost estimates suggested by opponents of the amendment.

“Ritchie claims the photo ID ‘system’ would cost local governments millions of dollars and raise property taxes,” Downey wrote in the Pioneer Press op-ed article. “What system? Voters just bring their ID. There will of course be costs for training, voter outreach and free state IDs. Well worth it. But nothing in the legislation requires local governments to buy new technology.”

McGrath also takes a common-sense look at the “substantially equivalent” language.

“Substantially equivalent … means as close as you can get, given the circumstances,” he said, noting that not-in-person voters like those who use mail ballots might simply show a witness their ID and write an identification number on the ballot.

But that doesn’t mean he and Kiffmeyer aren’t prepared for lawsuits, as well.

Kiffmeyer and Newman
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer was the amendment's sponsor in the House. Sen. Scott Newman sponsored the measure in the Senate.

“I don’t think it matters one bit what language it was,” Kiffmeyer said, referring to the “substantially equivalent” wording. “They were going to sue no matter, or they are inclined to sue no matter what, because that’s what they’ve done in many other states.”

Election outcomes at stake?

Through hours of debate and public testimony, as well as numerous amendments and counter-proposals, Democrats and Republicans never managed to agree on the actual motivations behind the voting amendment.

Each side accuses the other of partisan rhetoric and veiled motives meant to gain the political upper hand in increasingly high-stakes elections.

Opponents believe the voting amendment would disenfranchise many citizens – students, minorities, the poor, the elderly and the disabled — by ending same-day registration or putting barriers between voters and valid forms of identification.

Perhaps that’s why the outcome matters so much to the two sides.

DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler, an attorney who repeatedly challenged Kiffmeyer on the House floor, is outspoken.

“It’s not a conspiracy, but it’s an effort by well-funded conservative groups and Republican politicians to create restrictions on voting that will help Republicans win elections, and any denial of that fact is a lie,” Winkler said in an interview.

The other side’s view: “This is highly politicized. I think it’s clear that the DFL politicians in Minnesota are trying to block every effort to stop ineligible voters from voting,” said Andy Cilek, co-founder of pro-amendment group Minnesota Voters Alliance.

 “Why would they do that? Because I think they believe that gives them an advantage to keep their office and to keep their power,” he said.  "I think that’s pretty obvious."

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Comments (49)

Quantifying ineligible voters

In 2004, then Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, reported only 14 out of approximately 2,800,000 voters fraudulently cast ballots for a fraud rate of .0005 percent. - League of Women Voters website.

Seems voter suppression is a far more reasonable explanation. Vote No.

No need to vote "No",...

...since just ignoring the amendment and not casting a vote either way on it will have the same effect.

There is clearly so much doubt about what the impact of this would be that wise Minnesotans would do well to simply ignore this poorly done amendment. Let the proponents come back at a later time with another version of the amendment which is clear, so the people can know what they are voting on.

In the meantime, this thing is a pig-in-a-poke.

Voter ID

Did ya know.... A US Passport or Passport Card is NOT valid ID for voting purposes.


The actual law has not been written yet but we already know what forms of ID won't be valid. When this amendment passes it will be interesting to see the variety of valid IDs and I certainly have a hard time believing that Governor Dayton would sign a bill into law that wouldn't allow a U.S. Passport to be one of those valid IDs.

Revelations in Dan McGrath's comments

There are a couple places in Dan McGrath's comments where revelations peak through from between the lines.

First, we learn something important when he suggests Postal Verification Cards (PVCs) would be eliminated. Keep in mind that Mr. McGrath considers it essential to have confirmation that a voter actually resides in the precinct. He is not willing to accept the voter's sworn oath on this matter or even the sworn oaths of both the voter and another previously registered voter. So he would not suggest eliminating PVCs unless he envisioned some other form of assurance would be introduced regarding residence. My inference is that he expects the enabling legislation would require voters' government-issued photo ID to show their current address in the precinct. This requirement was included in the bill he championed in 2011, S.F. 509, which was passed by the legislature but vetoed by the Governor. Other states such as Indiana and Pennsylvania do not impose this requirement. This difference underlies the debate about how many Minnesotans would need to get a new ID in order to vote. Mr. McGrath has previously argued for a low estimate, in part because the proposed constitutional amendment does not make explicit that for an ID to be "valid" it would need to document residence in the precinct. By suggesting eliminating PVCs, he is showing that the amendment opponents were right to assume that in enabling legislation, he would again push for this requirement as in S.F. 509. Between the lines, he is arguing both sides of an issue: not so many new IDs needed because there is no address requirement, but also no PVCs needed because there would be an address requirement.

Second, when he says that "ninety percent of Election Day registrants will notice no difference in the process," he is conceding that there will be a far larger number of provisional ballots than he previously has claimed. In the past he has pointed to the approximately 7,000 provisional ballots used in Indiana as a sign that opponents were, in his view, overstating this issue. This line of argument ignores the differences between Indiana's law and what he proposes. But now, we also get an indication that he doesn't believe that number himself. Even 10% of the number of Election Day registrants is well in excess of 7,000. He still hasn't closed the gap with his opponents completely, but he seems to be conceding that his prior estimate was not credible. Even 54,000 provisional ballots is a lot. As Mr. McGrath himself has often pointed out, we have had statewide elections decided by fewer votes than that.

Voter suppression? Really?

The last several elections had more irregularities being reported (much more than 14 in 2004 by a group strongly opposing the amendment). We have also seen winning margins by very small amounts for some very prominent offices. Why is there such a problem with insuring the integrity of the vast number of ligitimate voters? No one is saying that those without an ID would not count. Their ballots are just provisional until verified. The argument that this is just a Republican effort to suppress voting is just bunk.


"more irregularities being reported" - because you say so? Provide verifiable proof for such a comment and not from republican legislators and their shills. Also why is ALEC (the Koch brothers) so involved in this issue? They are not involved in anything unless it benefits corporations and right wing groups.

It IS Voter Suppression

This amendment primarily affects the most vulnerable and/or least powerful among us: the poor, the elderly, people of color, the homeless, students.

Guess who these groups generally vote for.

Please read the articles the Star Tribune printed on Sunday. They ave good examples of just how difficult it is for some people to obtain ID. Here are the links:\

Why the small margins in recent elections?

Has Mr. Petersen forgotten that both the Franken-Coleman and Dayton-Emmer races were three-person races, with candidates from the Independence Party racking up significant numbers of votes?

From all indications, the Independence Party candidates attracted supporters from both parties, but somewhat more from the nearly extinct breed of moderate Republicans.

Pretending that those were two-person races is playing dumb and hoping that voters have short memories.

Voter Supression? Yes Really


Photo IDs will do nothing to enhance the integrity of the system since voter impersonation is a non-existent problem. All this will do is create problems and barriers for legal voters. If you wanted to enhance integrity you would re-pass the motor voter law that was vetoed by Pawlenty back in 2009. Motor voter gave the SOS the ability to cross check IDs with a variety of other data bases such as the felon records. Had Pawlenty not vetoed that law almost all of the felon votes (80% of the alleged fraud in the last election) would have been prevented.

Voter ID

What both sides of this amendment are missing. Both sides of the voter ID amendment are arguing there points, but everyone seems to be missing the main point. Just because someone shows up to vote with an approved government ID card, whatever is decided that might be, will not work. It will not work because there is no software program available that ties all of the elements that a photo ID card is supposed to do, together. I seriously doubt if there ever will be. People are to concerned about invasion of privacy to allow the government to build a data base that will track all eligible voters on a day to day basis. How in the world would having a photo ID card with your address on it show where actually lived, unless there was some sort of tracking device. Can you imagine the number of data entry people needed to keep track of everything that goes on in all the court houses in Minnesota on a daily basis. If you are convicted of a felony on Monday, that ID card to be effective needs to show you ineligible to vote on Tuesday. How are they going to track all of the real estate transactions? Just because you buy a house on Saturday in Minneapolis, doesn't mean your still not a resident of Duluth on Tuesday. How are the polling judges going to know that the name on the photo ID card is the real name of person whose picture is on it? I think people need to look at the big picture. ICE has one of the best ID's cards available for immigrants, it requires a picture with the left ear showing, a thumb print and the persons info is loaded into a nationwide database, that has cost 100's of millions of dollars. It has been in existence since 1995 and that photo ID hasn't slowed illegal immigration one bit and as far a stopping forgers, it hasn't even slowed them down. Before you get to excited about photo ID's think of the big picture.

Cut to the chase

We have had TWO statewide recounts where every single ballot was looked at by partisan attorneys from both sides. And all involved came away saying that there is no fraud in this state. I don't want to see us spend tens of millions of tax dollars every year just to prevent something that isn't occurring. What next, a constitutional amendment requiring security patrols to protect residents from Tiger attacks?

The requirement that voters show ID at the polls...

Is not innocuous-sounding. It sounds like a poll tax. It IS a poll tax.

If McGrath is correct (read, not lying through his teeth) suggesting that "substantially equivalent" should be interpreted as "separate but equal", well, the USSC seems to have something to say about that in Brown v. Board of Education. If Richie is correct that "substantially equivalent" is to mean "the same" then his conclusions are sound.

In response to Bob Peterson, voter registration manipulation is the way that voter suppression is conducted these days, with very clear precidents in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004. To pretend that republicans have not stolen elections by erecting barriers to prevent eligible usually poor and minority voters from casting a ballot, or having that ballot counted, is to deny facts. To conclude that our republicans are somehow morally superior or wouldn't stoop to that level seems optimistic at best considering all of the really excellent, upstanding behavior we've seen from the local party in recent years.

Additionally, yes, many people are saying that those who cast votes without an ID would not have those votes counted. The voter must take additional steps, including getting that ID, within a specified time frame. There is no guarantee that the statutory timeframe would be sufficient for even best-case scenerios where someone has moved a few days or weeks before an election and needs a new address on their ID - let alone some old person who has voted in the same place since 1936 and whose birth cerficate was burned in some fire somewhere in 1954.

Systematically disenfranchising people because they're poor, have moved recently, are young, are old, is WRONG. It's wrong. It's unamerican. With citizens united, conservatives have already obliterated the idea that everyone should have an equal say in their own governance. Couldn't we at least let people vote for one of the two largely identical stooges who manage to make it to the general election ballot on the back of massive corporate funding?

It is a fact that imposing barriers like photo id and mandatory pre-registration will drive down participation. We may as well reinstate property ownership as a requirement, or take back women's right to vote. This is the single most disgusting, morally repugnant proposal I have ever seen, and I dispair for our future in this country.

You Can ALWAYS Tell What a "Conservative" Would Do

If given sufficient power to do it, by what they're accusing others of doing.

Remember back in the Franken/Coleman and the Emmer/Dayton recounts all the false accusations the "conservative" side leveled at precinct, county and state election officials - false accusations of playing games with ballots, ballots left in the trunks of cars and all that similar B.S. (and it was ALL revealed to BE B.S. in the end)?

Now, under false banner of "Voter I.D." they're trying to create for themselves a system wherein election officials at every level (after they pack those election official positions with people who support THEM), will have 10% of ballots, the "provisional ballots" to play B.S. games with in exactly the way they falsely accused Democrats of doing in those two earlier recounts.

If you haven't figured out what they're doing yet, it's this: these provisional ballots and how they're counted or rejected will provide our "conservative" friends with the means to determine the outcome of EVERY future election in Minnesota.

Playing fast and loose (which it's already clear they WILL do) with 10% of votes being counted or ignored in key precincts will be enough to allow them to win almost every election, at every level, for the foreseeable future.

I, for one, do NOT intend to hand my "conservative" friends, many of whom, though intelligent, well spoken, and even charming, are SEVERELY out of touch with objective reality, the means to do this.

The ONLY way to protect the integrity of our election system from the kinds of skullduggery they're hoping to accomplish with "Voter I.D." is to vote NO and, thereby, keep what we already have - the cleanest, most honest, most efficiently-managed election system in the country.

Scope of voters affected

See SoS Ritchie's final comment below, quoted from the comments section of his prior Community Voices article. He provided this information because amendment proponents had challenged his statement on the extent of same day registration by MN voters:

"61% of current Minnesota voters have registered to vote in their polling place, based on their voting history record in the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS)."

Claims that this isn't going to affect many voters are absolute nonsense. There is a concerted campaign of disinformation here by the proponents of this amendment.

In addition to that,

placing regulations that are neither basic organizing principles of government nor statements of citizens' rights in the state constitution is a recipe for tying the state government's hands (which is precisely what a lot of conservatives want to do).

I did not live in Minnesota between 1984 and 2003, so I cannot comment on the wisdom of any amendments that were subject to referendum during that period. In Oregon, where the initiative process is out of control (special interest groups pay professional signature gathering companies, whose employees have been known to lie about the content of petitions in order to gather enough signatures), several attorney friends told me to vote "no" on all constitutional amendments that did not fall under the category of government organization or expansion of rights, even if I agreed with the proposal in the amendment. They felt that amendments and statutes (passed by legislatures) were two different animals with different functions.

Both constitutional amendments up for a vote this time are attempts to protect bad ideas.

The marriage amendment is a cowardly attempt to fight changing social mores by putting the rules of the most conservative religious groups into the state constitution.

The voter ID amendment is backdoor voter suppression, gussied up with high-sounding talk about "protecting the integrity of our vote." The right-wing media have gone into overdrive, spreading the idea that Democrats can win only by "fraud," which appears to include letting the "wrong" American citizens vote.

Yet election fraud is a much more serious problem. In many states, voting is done on paperless electronic machines manufactured by Republican-owned companies that will not allow outside audits of their software. (I've had one computer course in my life, and I can think up two undetectable algorithms for cheating, and since a computer will always give the same answer unless it is reprogrammed, recounts are impossible.) In Florida, thousands of people were purged from the voting rolls because they happened to have the same name as a convicted felon or even a similar name. We just had the case in Ohio, where the Republican secretary of state tried to limit voting hours in Democratic-leaning precincts but not in Republican-leaning precincts. In fact, there were so many irregularities in Ohio in 2004 that the Libertarians, Greens, and other third parties (but not the Democrats, to their shame) joined in a lawsuit against the state.

Most tellingly, several of the voter ID laws that have passed have been struck down by the federal courts as discriminatory.

You are right, Ms Sandness.

The voter ID effort is a two-fer. First, it practically disenfranchises certain elements of the voting public selected for disenfranchisement precisely for their very predictable voting tendencies. Second, it diverts attention from the other, multiple, infinitely more consequential forms of "voting fraud" that exist, from very local voter intimidation and misinformation, to state-level voter purges and voting machine allocations such as you mention, to vote-counting software concealed behind court-ratified proprietary claims. One also can include here the most basic form of voter fraud - the concerted efforts of the establishment media to ensure that the voting public is as passive, uninformed and incapable of critical thought as possible, thus ensuring that elections are ratifications and not choices.


I just want to know why we're doing this now. Is it because we have a black man in the White House, and this is one way to limit his support? Or is it the supporters' contention that Obama won because of voter fraud? Is it because 2012 just seems like the year to get jazzed about the issue, just because other Republican-governed states have gone nuts? Or just because?

And why is it primarily Republican governors and legislatures that support measures of this kind? Seems to me, they stole a presidential election with the help of the Supreme Court due to voter fraud. One would think they might like to preserve the tradition to grab the "win."

I have been confused by this from the start. It seems like a colossal waste of time and money swirling around a non-issue. I don't want it. Nope.

Just let us vote. We won't ever behave like Bushies in Florida. We're here in Minnesota, and we do things better.

Nearly On The Head

Close on the black man in the White House, but look farther into the future. As the majority white population ages and shrinks, so does the Republican base. It is estimated that Obama may need only 38% of the white vote to win in November. That number will decline as each year passes.

Maureen, I think the black president is an issue for many...

...on the right. My belief is that our country is under assault by some rich, reactionaries, like the Kochs, and other billionaires who are trying to take over our country. They could never get away with a coup that would openly end democracy so they try "legal" means. Who funds the tea party and ALEC? The Kochs and their rich friends. There is always a segment of society: bigots, the uneducated easily pursuaded, John Birch society believers (now called Ann Rand lovers), the America love it or leave it types that supported our immoral wars in Vietnam and Iraq. These people are being manipulated by the big money people and will one day learn too late that they were played for fools. It amazes me that anyone in the middle class would think that their interests and the interests of billionaire investors could ever be the same on any economic issue. I sound like a conspiracy nut but the momentum has been building from the right since the time of Reagan. They now demonstrate that they will shut down our government before they will lose. Freedom? There will be no freedom once they pass laws that all adults must always have an id at all times to prove who they are, not just to vote and not just the Hispanics, but all of us. Then the roundup can begin.

Sorry but you missed the point

It's not the "substantially equivalent" language that kills same day registration, it the 30 day requirement. Here's what the amendment actually says:

Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the
1.12United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next
1.13preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct. The place of voting by one
1.14otherwise qualified who has changed his residence within 30 days preceding the election
1.15shall be prescribed by law.

This basically means that even with an ID if you're not already registered to vote on election day, you get a provisional ballot. There is no way to get anything other than a provisional ballot because you are not registered, and there is no way to verify registration and the required photo ID on the same day, so you get a provisional ballot. Worse than that, no one can say how or why the state will ever count that ballot! Provisional ballot given in lieu of ID will be counted presumeably when the voter returns with an ID. But if you already presented an ID what more can you to force the state to count your ballot? When does that ballot get counted and why?.

Amongst other things you have to remember there's no way to verify an ID on election day. Kiffmeyer was asked repeatedly whether an unregistered voter with a valid ID would get a normal or a provisional ballot on election day during the House debates and she simply refused to answer the question. Kiffmeyer has been death on same day registration for years so don't believe her if she say's she's trying to protect it in any way. Likewise with McGrath. McGrath has been spreading misinformation about the postal verification for over a year, making all kinds of bogus claims about the numbers of cards returned etc so he's simply an unreliable source. They have a video that claim that something like 25,000 cards were returned in 2008 when in fact it was something like 300.

The 30 day requirement combined with the implementation of the provisional ballots kill same day registration by simply making it impossible and or redundant. The reason this is a bait and switch is because the ID itself doesn't really play a role, it's the provisional ballots and the pre-registration requirement that dramatically changes our election system. The difference between the amendment and the ballot question is quite substantial. It's an indirect consequence of a series of catch 22s set up the amendment.

ID Card

It doesn't matter what they require or don't require on a photo ID. If they are trying to prevent any type of criminal activity by use of a photo ID, history shows it won't work. Photo ID's have been around for a long time and they do not stop criminal activity, of which voter fraud falls under. Photo ID's have not stopped under age drinking, bad checks, illegal immigration, you name it, if there is a photo ID involved it has not stopped crime. Immigration has perhaps the most detailed photo ID, requiring a picture with the left ear showing, a signature, id number and a thumb print. This hasn't prevent illegal immigration or illegal immigrants working in the US at all. Not only that but ICE has a huge data base to check these ID cards on and this doesn't work. I would like somebody to explain to me how then is a card with a picture on it and perhaps an address and date of birth, going to prevent voter fraud. The bottom line is, it isn't. It is my opinion that this is just another program that will cost taxpayers money and in the end will be useless. Let's make one more assumption. Let's assume that the government comes up with a way to verify that the photo ID in your hand is actually true and correct and let's say that they have developed this huge data base to keep track of everybody. What happens on election day if the data base crashes? Or worse yet what happens if all your information the government is tracking about you gets into the wrong hands? Do you really want the government tracking your daily life?

Worse than useless

Kenneth is right to point out the futility of photo IDs as fraud prevention, the only kind of voter fraud they could prevent would be impersonation, and we know that there have been exactly zero cases of impersonation.... ever. However the amendment goes further, it creates barriers to legal votes by legal voters and therefore could distort election outcomes, it's not useless, Republicans hope it will win elections for them. It's important to remember that this is a deliberate, coordinated, and calculated effort to swing votes towards Republicans. I don't know that it will work as intended because most of the assumptions behind it are based on myth instead of reality, but it will disenfranchise voters and that in and of itself makes it a bad idea.

Same Day Registration is Essential!

Remember 2000 when many people in Florida who thought they were properly registered voters we denied the right to vote because their names were not on the rosters? Well, that happens here, too. For whatever reason, there are times when someone's name is not on the voting roster. This is no problem in Minnesota as you can just walk over to another desk and re-register. Without same day registration there is way too much power put into the hands of those who control the lists.

Usually, in Minnesota, the problem is that the person didn't vote in the last election and failed to realized they'd be purged. Who knows, I hear even computers sometimes make mistakes! But we have a system that allows us to fix errors - and maintain integrity. We really need to fight to keep same day registration. It is not just for people too lazy to register in advance, it is a way of insuring our system can not be corrupted.

The amendment we really need

The amendment we really need is one to force a super majority to be needed in both houses of the legislature to force an amendment vote in the next general election by the legislature. Otherwise we get just this sort of nonsense: any politically partisan issue can end run around the governor's veto. All it takes is a simple majority of one party in both houses to put whatever they wish on an amendment ballot, if the governor objects to any partisan law they try to pass. That is exactly the case in both of these amendments. That forces all of us to pay the extra required to handle the issue there whether it eventually passes or not.

These two amendments are already a waste of the taxpayer's money. There is no need that any Republican can or will point to for the voter ID amendment, and the other is a religious run that actually violates the Federal Constitution in the very Article 6 that applies the Federal Constitution to state governments in all their parts, where it says no religious test with no exceptions listed

These give the total lie to the Republican claim to exceptional fiscal responsibility. They refuse to tax but require spending without providing the first proof of any kind of need.

NO on both or if one is not sure just don't vote on either of them at all. It is perfectly acceptable to not vote at all if one chooses on any race or item on the ballot, and for anybody who has any doubts that should be the way they go rather than to hold one's nose and be forced to pick. To amend the Constitution every yes vote needs to be absolutely certain, not a matter of guesswork, regardless of the amendment. The Constitution should not be easy to change.

The uncertainties in this amendment are overwhelming,...

...and I agree wholeheartedly with you: if you have any uncertainty at all, simply ignore these amendments and wait until a CLEAR amendment is proposed, so Minnesotans are not voting in the dark.


It took from 1920 to 1933 to repeal prohibition. Although it was a highly unpopular measure.
There are adequate provisions to root out voter fraud, which is mostly non-existent. The republicans and ONLY the republicans voted to put this on the ballot as an amendment because they knew Governor Dayton would veto it.
Should half or less than half of the legislature be able to change our system of voting so radically and permanently, allowing serious restrictions on voting to be passed and into perpetuity? --so these old white guys and some other republicans be able to seriously diminish voting rights,which is against the Constitution, in perpetuity? The newspaper said today that these old white guys (and some gals like Kiffmeyer) are trying to lock it in while they can, leaving younger people to undo the damage in several years to come? Why?
There's a lot of money involved. We can hardly call the republicans the party of fiscal responsibility, in addition to other things that have happened, like the costly shutdown of the state and the refusal to fund bridge and road repair and other measures that actually INCREASE the prosperity of individuals and the whole state.

social engineering ...

At it's worst. More filthy then an episode of boardwalk empire. I suggest Googling no no no lyrics and listening to all the tunes with those three words and then following through at the polls. One for each amendment and then the last for your Republican legislator federal or local should you have one !

Any chance

that the Secretary of State's office might put in a little time and effort into getting people registered to vote prior to election day? Seems like that would be in the job description and result in shorter lines and less hassle on election day. Just a handful of the 365 days per year on the job would help. Especially after that big 9% turnout in the last primary.

Back door purge

Chelle is absolutely right and this can't be overstated. Republicans have been huge on voter roll purges and that's exactly this is, it's a back door purge. Only pre-registered voters with the proper ID will get an normal ballot that will counted on election day, everyone else gets a provisional ballot, that's a defacto purge, it's like starting all over again with new voter rolls.

Registering voters

Tom, the SOS will do what it can, but most of it's efforts will focused on creating a new provisional ballot system and coordinating and assisting thousands of polling places in the first election. It will be doing this with a reduced budget by the way, the legislator set aside no money to pay for all of this, mostly because they never bothered to estimate what it will cost.

How about now?

What if the SOS spent some of the time presently spent on opposing the amendment registering voters at colleges, nursing homes, high schools, etc. Maybe the 500,000 voters that register on this upcoming election day could be just 400,000 or even less if some actual effort were put into it.

What about now?

The Secretary of States office is spending NO time opposing this amendment. All the SOS can do is offer information, it cannot and is not campaigning against this amendment.

Furthermore MN currently has one of the highest voter turnouts in the state, voter registration is not an issue. The amendment as NOT passed and will not effect the upcoming election. Finally, registration has little to do with photo ID, even if your registered according to this law, without the ID you get a provisional ballot.

Making your last point even clearer

You already need proof of identity and residence to register. All those people who register on election day are providing some form of identification on the day of the election. This should have little bearing on people who register same day because they'll have the proper identification. The people it will inconvenience are people who are already registered, especially those voting by mail.

People seem to be quite confused about the registration process and the voting process being separate entities. Providing Photo ID every time I vote is essentially re-registering for every election. I would be in favor of requiring photo ID for the registration process (or better yet, just removing "vouching"). However, providing photo ID to vote when I'm already registered is an unnecessary bureaucratic burden that costs money, makes the voting process less efficient and introduces opportunities for error and manipulation while adding no benefit.

Anyone who claims to be a fan of smaller, more efficient government AND the Voter ID amendment is a hypocrite at best and a liar at worst.


How about the simple fact that freedom requires personal responsibility. A little known fact these days.

Kent's responible....

Kent, senior citizens living without photo IDs they don't need are not being irresponsible. The notion that a person who was responsible last year is suddenly irresponsible this year simply because you've passed a photo ID requirement is silly. This a completely artificial and contrived condition of "responsibility". You don't tell someone who's fought for this country, built this country, and voted for 80 years that they are irresponsible citizens simply because they don't have an ID they don't need. Well, you can tell someone that, but make sure you're wearing a hard hat because you're likely to get a cane topside your head.


Do you know what it takes to get social security benefits/medicare/a doctors visit/pay taxes/pay bills/etc.? I.D.

It's not the same at all

It's silly that the folks who are in support of this so-called "Voter ID" amendment keep bringing up personal responsibility in their arguments of support as though that has anything at all to do with the amendment. If this is really just some kind of social engineering experiment to redefine "personal responsibility" as having government issued ID, then the authors of the amendment should have just said that. But they decided to completely shirk their jobs and not even bother to define what types of IDs they would consider valid. It ought to be defeated purely because it's such a poorly written law and the authors haven't bothered to plan out what happens after it's implemented, they just pass the buck to whoever is in office after Election Day.

If the object is to stop voter impersonation, why can't any of the proponents produce an single instance of voter impersonation or even attempted voter impersonation? And the argument that "we can't measure that without this law in effect" is just plain silly. If that was really what it was about, we would never hear about all of this "personal responsibility" mumbo-jumbo. Uninformed voting is irresponsible, with or without photo ID.


When did "responsibility" become a precondition for voting? And how you would ever measure it? If we're going for responsibility, let's start with our legislators who try to get legislation and amendments passed.

Yes really Kent

Kent you don't need a photo ID to get medicare or SS benefits. Tens of thousands of seniors in this state who have long since let their DLs lapse (because they no longer drive) get their benefits every month. These people represent a substantial portion of the 200,000+ voters in this state who don't have a photo ID. Please, take ten minutes to educate yourself on this.

And isn't it funny how all these people who lack elementary knowledge regarding our existing election and registration system are so quick to call others "irresponsible" citizens?

Irresponsible is funny?

Again, freedom requires personal responsibility. I have called no one irresponsible, yet it may be argued.
As to voter impersonation, there is also no evidence of voter suppression with voter ID along with provisional balloting.
It's not funny that a little critical thinking instead of elementary thinking would keep many wrong things from happening.


The problem with entire amendment is that it smacks of any substance and it's supporters tend to be reactionary "conservatives" who can't come up with any reason that it should be implemented other than "freedom requires personal responsibilty" and other corny lines that have nothing to do with solving any problems. It's not the "Personal Responsibilty Act of 2012" it's simply called "Voter ID" despite that it doesn't define what type of ID or how the state is supposed to keep track of all citizenship, address, and non-felon status all on a single database that currently doesn't exist but will somehow magically exist by July of 2013, so let's not kid ourselves. Critical thinkers can't look at this honestly and say that this is solving any problem, because the only type of fraud this would prevent has never actually ocurred and to say that because nobody's votes have been suppressed when it isn't even in effect is naive at best, dishonest at worst.

What if we make it into an entirely different problem, for example, bear attacks. I say we need a constitutional amendment to devote a currently undetermined amount of state revenues to start a metropolitan bear patrol to prevent and stop bear attacks in the Twin Cities. While the actual number of bear attacks in the metro is non-existent, that doesn't mean that they aren't happening and that the numbers of attacks won't increase in the future without the implementation of the bear patrol. Yes it's a silly problem, but this is the point. The logic is exactly the same in both this ridiculous imaginary scenario as the so-called Voter ID. Critical thinking skills weren't applied at all.

voter suppression and evidence

In states that have implemented provisional balloting up to 30% of those ballots are never counted. That means translates into a 30% decrease in the number of votes counted, and yes, that's vote suppression.

Just because one may not be aware of the evidence doesn't mean it doesn't exist Kent.

I would point out that one is also responsible for ones own integrity, that responsibility requires a legitimate effort to be informed, not merely opinionated. Again, it funny how these people who take no responsibility for their own integrity are so quick to pontificate regarding the responsibilities of others.


How many ballots were thrown out at the recount of the Coleman Franken election? 4000.
Enough evidence of funny business.
You're pining with yourself over responsibility and evidence.


The ballots that were "thrown" are not "evidence" of anything other than sloppy ballots. Those ballots were tossed because they could not determine the will of the voter. The Franken Coleman recount was closely monitored by both parties and the Republican observers have repeatedly stated that there was NO evidence off funny business or fraud.

One Bucket

Ballots were rejected (then) for many reasons.
Some sloppy business.
Some funny business.
My vote for the amendment.

Be well.

Were you an observer?

Because I was.

I was a nonpartisan observer (silent observer only). And what I saw was that BOTH sides' partisan observers (non-silent observers representing the campaigns with the right to challenge ballots) called for ballots to be rejected for a variety of reasons.

Initially, it was just a few ballots. But as the day(s) wore on, it started to become a "For every ballot THEY reject, WE'RE going to make sure WE reject one, also!" (I actually heard one of the partisan observers say that) which of course led to more and more ballots being rejected - again by both sides - as time went by. It was becoming an ever-escalating game of "one upmanship", and it was very distressing to watch.

It became apparent that things were getting out of control, and the election judges started tightening up on what they would accept as arguments to get a ballot rejected. But there were lots and lots of hushed huddled consultations around counting tables with lawyers from both sides closely monitoring the proceedings.

So yes, a lot of ballots were thrown out. And yes - they weren't always being thrown out for the best of reasons IMHO. (Things like the fact that someone's mark went very slightly outside the oval, for example - were being challenged as a "stray mark". I saw that a LOT. On both sides. And I've since become VERY fastidious about how well I fill in the ovals when I vote!)

But remember - these challenges were being made by BOTH sides. And also remember - despite all the gamesmanship going on, none of the partisan observers reported any evidence of fraud.

Bad behavior on both sides does not make your case.

Back to the evidence Kent

Kent, you just keep saying there was "funny business" because you think tossed ballots imply it, the fact is they don't. If you have some evidence the Republican party and all it's lawyers failed to uncover let's see it.

Add thousands of provisional ballots to the mix

Pat, if that was a mess imagine it with tens of thousands of uncounted provisional ballots thrown into the mix. The idea that tens of thousands of uncounted provisional ballots will INCREASE confidence in our elections is simply daft.