As expected, supporters of the proposed voter ID constitutional amendment have filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to overturn a new title for their proposal that they say is unauthorized and misleading. The move follows similar action by supporters of the other proposed amendment on this fall’s ballot — related to the definition of marriage — after the title of that measure was also changed by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Amendment proponents in both cases argue Ritchie has no authority to interfere with titles selected by the Legislature for questions it presents to voters and that the titles Ritchie picked tend to discourage support for the measures. Both constitutional amendments — one of which would require voters to show photo ID at the polling place and the other of which would define marriage as an opposite-sex union — were placed on the ballot by the Republican-led Legislature. Both are opposed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
“The attorney general and the secretary of state, both state DFL party leaders, colluded to usurp the Legislature’s legal authority and to confound the voters. This is raw partisan politics at its worst,” Republican Scott Newman of Hutchinson, who sponsored the voter ID bill in the Senate, said in a statement. The secretary of state’s duty in these situations is “purely ministerial,” Newman said. “His obligation is simply to print the ballots as directed by the Legislature. His refusal to do so is a breach of the public trust, so we’ve asked the Supreme Court to correct his error.”
Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson, who backed his title changes, have pointed to state law giving the secretary of state authority to name ballot measures. Swanson and Ritchie were asked to appear before a Senate committee Friday, July 20, to discuss the title revisions and other issues related to the amendments, but neither is going. Swanson planned to send Solicitor General Alan Gilbert, and Ritchie planned to send a representative from his office.