Details of proposed constitutional amendments are rarely included in the ballot question voters see and the photo ID amendment should be no exception to that rule, lawyers for the Legislature have told the Minnesota Supreme Court. In defending a ballot question asking if voters should be required to show a photo ID, lawyers for the House and Senate said in a brief filed this week that the Legislature “adhered to long-standing tradition by generally describing the proposed amendment” rather than listing every detail. “There is no requirement that the Minnesota Legislature provides voters with a ‘Cliffs Notes’ summary of the proposed amendment in the ballot questions,” the lawyers wrote in their brief. “Indeed, of the 213 proposed ballot questions in Minnesota’s history, at least 42 of the questions have contained either no suggestion as to the nature of the amendment, or such limited detail that one would not know what changes the proposed amendment would make by simply viewing the ballot question,” argued the lawyers, Robert Weinstine, Thomas Boyd and Kristopher Lee.
Their firm was hired by the Republican-controlled Legislature to defend a proposed constitutional amendment the Legislature passed this year that is to go to the voters in November. League of Women Voters-Minnesota and other groups have asked the Supreme Court to remove the question from the ballot, saying the language voters will see does not fairly and accurately describe the extent of the proposed constitutional changes. When the Legislature wants to amend the state Constitution, it writes the new constitutional language as well as a ballot question to be submitted to voters. The new constitutional language does not appear on the ballot — only the ballot question does.