Minnesota: Voter ID foes decry unfairness to seniors | Winona Daily News

For nearly 70 years, Christeen Stone has voted in every election without having to present a document to prove she is a qualified voter. Stone has voted in the same precinct since 1944, when she moved into her Maplewood home. That’s one reason she said she strongly objects to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Minnesota voters to present photo identification at the polls. “It’s just an insult to people who have voted all their lives,” said Stone, 91. “They’ve been good citizens, and then to go in and be suspects in their own country, I don’t like that.“ Opponents of the constitutional amendment claim the proposed requirement would it make harder, if not impossible, for thousands of people to cast a ballot. They say senior citizens are among those most likely to face hurdles, because many of them cannot readily produce the documents to prove their identity.

South Dakota: Judge rules South Dakota Secretary of State Gant must reprint pamphlets | Rapid City Journal

A judge on Friday ordered Secretary of State Jason Gant to reprint the state’s election pamphlet and include Sen. Stan Adelstein’s opposition statement to a constitutional amendment backed by the governor. Adelstein, a Republican from Rapid City, filed suit against Gant last week in circuit court in Hughes County, saying Gant broke the law by not including Adelstein’s opposition statement regarding a balanced-budget amendment proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Adelstein opposed the measure in the Legislature. The court ruling Friday means Gant must reprint the pamphlets with Adelstein’s opposition statement, distribute it to county auditors throughout the state and publish the new version online. Adelstein said the ruling gives voters balanced information about the amendment. “The voters otherwise would be voting for an entirely different thing than they are told,” Adelstein said. “It would be awful for the state to be stuck with this impediment to the constitution.”

South Dakota: Judge rules South Dakota Secretary of State Gant must reprint pamphlets | Rapid City Journal

A judge on Friday ordered Secretary of State Jason Gant to reprint the state’s election pamphlet and include Sen. Stan Adelstein’s opposition statement to a constitutional amendment backed by the governor. Adelstein, a Republican from Rapid City, filed suit against Gant last week in circuit court in Hughes County, saying Gant broke the law by not including Adelstein’s opposition statement regarding a balanced-budget amendment proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Adelstein opposed the measure in the Legislature. The court ruling Friday means Gant must reprint the pamphlets with Adelstein’s opposition statement, distribute it to county auditors throughout the state and publish the new version online. Adelstein said the ruling gives voters balanced information about the amendment. “The voters otherwise would be voting for an entirely different thing than they are told,” Adelstein said. “It would be awful for the state to be stuck with this impediment to the constitution.”

Minnesota: Judge hears senator’s photo ID complaint against Minnesota Secretary of State Ritchie | StarTribune.com

A state senator who sponsored the proposed photo ID constitutional amendment took his beef against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to a judge on Friday. Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, filed a complaint accusing Ritchie, a DFLer who opposes the amendment, of using his website, staff and state resources to promote his political opposition to the measure. An Administrative Law Judge heard arguments in the case Friday without making a decision. Lawyers for the two sides are to submit further briefs before the judge, Bruce Johnson, decides if there is probable cause for the case to go forward.

National: Election administration issues on ballot in several states | electionline

This year, some ballots, like those in Florida, are so long and filled with candidates and issues that elections officials are encouraging voters to vote early to avoid possible lines on Election Day. The issues on the ballot range from gay marriage to gambling to ethics to tax levies. In several states however, the issues on the ballot are the elections themselves. In Minnesota voters will decide whether or not photo ID should be required to cast a ballot in future elections, in Arizona voters will decide whether or not to revamp the state’s entire primary system and in Illinois, residents in East Saint Louis will vote whether or not to eliminate city’s election board.

Minnesota: ‘Voter ID’ will cost as much as $500,000 | DL-Online

If the Voter ID amendment passes, it could cost Becker County as much as $500,000, according to Becker County Auditor-Treasurer Ryan Tangen, who is in charge of local elections. The Voter ID Act is one of two constitutional amendments (the other is an anti-gay marriage amendment) placed on the Nov. 6 ballot by the Republican-led Legislature. That $500,000 estimate is based on a variety of factors, including $65,000 for equipment needed by the county to make photo IDs and $120,000 for election equipment that will be needed by the county’s 10 townships that now vote by mail-in ballot.

Editorials: On Minnesota voter ID amendment, ends do not justify means | The Forest Lake Times

This country is stronger when virtually every adult is empowered with their constitutional right to vote. Few restrictions should limit this right, and a change in those limits should only be made when it’s been demonstrated that the rights of the majority are in danger. There are two principles of a free election on which all should agree.  Those who either are not citizens or who have lost their right to vote should not be voting. Every citizen regardless of economic physical condition, politics, religious belief, race, gender or age must be given an opportunity to vote. On Nov. 6, Minnesotans will vote on a significant change in voting rights – a constitutional amendment that would require a valid voter identification with a photograph of the individual voting. If passed, the amendment also says the state must issue photographic identification at no charge.  A voter unable to provide a government-issued photograph identification would be permitted to cast a provisional ballot that can be counted only after lawful identification is provided.

Arizona: Political parties united in dislike of Arizona’s top-two primaries | Mohave Daily News

They don’t agree on much, but a plan to create “top two” primaries has Arizona’s major and minor political parties on the same page – or at least close to it. Their responses range from outright opposition from Republican, Libertarian and Green leaders to noncommittal dislike from the Arizona Democratic Party. Proposition 121, dubbed the Open Elections/Open Government Act, would replace the current partisan primary system with a single primary that advances the top vote-getters regardless of party. The Open Government Committee, led by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, contends the change would produce more moderate candidates and increase primary election turnout.

Minnesota: Voter ID opponents call it costly, unnecessary | Duluth News Tribune

Most of the argument about whether Minnesota should require separate photo ID cards for people to vote has focused on how much voter fraud occurs in the state. Supporters of voter ID cards say the cards will stop widespread fraud. Opponents say the evidence that shows fraud is almost nonexistent and that the card requirement might keep some people from voting. But Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a DFLer, and some county auditors say there are several other problems with the amendment that most people have never heard of — most notably the cost to taxpayers. Ritchie said the state is in for some major election headaches trying to account for absentee, overseas military and even rural voters who now vote by mail. And he said it virtually will eliminate same-day registration, which has been credited with pushing Minnesota voter participation to among the highest in the nation.

Minnesota: Divisions persist on need for Minnesota voter ID amendment | SFGate

Supporters of a proposed Minnesota voter ID amendment say it will protect the integrity of the state’s election system, while opponents point to several studies finding the kind of fraud the proposed requirement is designed to prevent is extremely rare. Weeks before voters get the chance to decide whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution to require a photo ID at the polls, deep divisions persist about whether it’s needed, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Dan McGrath, who runs the pro-amendment campaign Protect My Vote, said the group has found that Minnesota topped all states in the number of voter fraud convictions linked to a single election — nearly 200 convictions from 2008, when Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate race by a razor-thin 312 vote margin after a recount and court challenges. McGrath said that means fraud “played a role” in the race.

Minnesota: Photo ID edict could hit 215,000 Minnesota voters | StarTribune.com

Showing photo identification is a no-brainer for the vast majority of Minnesotans who have the magic card in their wallets and purses and produce it regularly to conduct even the most routine transactions. But a strict ID requirement, such as is being proposed in a constitutional amendment this November, can be a significant barrier for anyone who lives off the ID grid. According to the Minnesota secretary of state’s office, that number could run as high as 84,000. In addition to the 2.7 percent of registered voters who appear to lack a state-issued ID, the office estimates that another 4 percent — 131,000 — hold IDs that do not show their current voting address. The amendment would require all voters to show government-approved photo IDs before casting their ballots.

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

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. 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.

Editorials: Do Democrats have a Plan B on ‘Citizens United’? | Ruth Marcus/The Washington Post

Pushing constitutional amendments tends to be the province of Republican presidents: to mandate balanced budgets, for instance, or to make abortion illegal. But President Obama has been both speaking privately and flirting openly with the notion of amending the Constitution. His goal would be to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and get the biggest-money checks out of politics. Obama advisers have been edging up to this for months. In February, urging donors to open their checkbooks to Obama-supporting super PACs, campaign manager Jim Messina said that “the president favors action — by constitutional amendment, if necessary — to place reasonable limits on all such spending.”

Minnesota: Local election officials see added duties, costs in proposed Voter ID amendment | St. Cloud Times

Local election officials are bracing for an expected increase in work load if Minnesota voters approve a constitutional amendment requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. There are still many unknowns about how the new requirements would be carried out. But county auditors say it’s clear there would be added duties, changes in the ballot-counting process and possibly the need to purchase electronic equipment for all polling places to verify voters’ eligibility. Most county officials have steered clear of the political debate over whether the proposed amendment is good public policy. But they are vocal about the costs and complications they expect if it passes. “There’s going to be a lot of political denial that this thing is expensive,” said Jeff Spartz, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Minnesota: Campaigns over voter ID amendment ramp up | Minnesota Public Radio News

Now that the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment calling for voters to present ID at the polls on the November ballot, groups for and against it are ramping up their campaigns to win voters. Supporters of the proposed requirement point to public opinion surveys that have consistently shown it has strong support. Opponents are trying to convince voters it could disenfranchise some Minnesotans and that there is scant evidence of voter fraud. One visible reminder of the amendment battle already underway is a simple billboard along Interstate 94 near Albertville, Minn., with a stunning proclamation: Minnesota is “number one” for voter fraud. But that message is simply not true, said Joe Mansky, elections director for Ramsey County.

Minnesota: Group opposing photo Minnesota ID totals up potential costs | StarTribune.com

A proposed constitutional amendment that will require voters to show photo ID and make a series of other changes to state elections will be costly to governments and individuals, an anti-ID organization said. The costs to the state for providing free IDs, to local governments for instituting provisional balloting and upgrading technology, and to individuals for obtaining underlying documents such as birth certificates will be significant, said a report from Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota and David Schultz, law professor at Hamline University.  Here is the breakdown of costs, according to the group’s report. The state would pay $8.25 million over four years to provide free IDs, as the amendment requires, and a one-time cost of $1.7 to $5.3 million to educate voters about the change. The counties, which administer local elections, would have to spend between $23 million and $53 million to institute a new system of provisional balloting, to provide the technology for instant verification of voters and to convert mail-in voters to in-person voters. Some of these costs would be continuing costs, the report states.

Editorials: Costly Minnesota voter ID amendment ‘solves’ an imaginary problem | Grand Forks Herald

In the wake of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling on Aug. 27, Minnesotans will decide in November whether we rewrite our state Constitution to include new restrictions on voting, including the need to show photo ID at the polls. In its decision, the court affirmed the Legislature’s authority to place amendments on the ballot. Missing was proof that an amendment was even needed in this case. And that makes for an unfortunate and shortsighted opinion, one that puts Minnesota at odds with states such as Wisconsin and Missouri, where courts held that such measures are unconstitutional because they threaten citizens’ fundamental right to vote. But it goes even beyond that.

Minnesota: Twin Cities mayors say voter ID requirement expensive, restrictive | Minnesota Public Radio

The Democratic mayors of Minnesota’s two largest cities are speaking out against a proposed voter identification constitutional amendment. During a state Capitol news conference today, mayors Chris Coleman of St. Paul and R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis warned that the proposed change in state election law will be expensive for their cities. They also claim it will restrict the rights of many eligible voters. The mayor of St. Paul offered numerous adjectives describing the effort to require all eligible Minnesotans to show photo identification in order to vote. Within just a couple of minutes, Mayor Chris Coleman said the amendment is terrible, unnecessary, restrictive, cynical and wrongheaded. Coleman is also concerned about the cost to his city, which he estimated at $870,000 just for first-year implementation.

Puerto Rico: Voters Reject Constitutional Amendments | Huffington Post

Voters crowded polling stations across Puerto Rico on Sunday and rejected constitutional amendments that would have reduced the size of the U.S. territory’s legislature and given judges the right to deny bail in certain murder cases. With 99 percent of polling places reporting, officials said 54 percent of the 805,337 votes counted rejected the legislative measure and 46 percent favored it. Fifty-five percent opposed the bail measure and 45 percent supported it. The referendum’s results mean Puerto Rico remains the only place in the Western Hemisphere where everyone is entitled to bail regardless of the alleged crime.

Minnesota: An expensive proposition: Voter ID passage could increase Minnesota county’s election-related costs | The Stillwater Gazette

Washington County faces spending more than $750,000 for new voting machines and a central counting machine in 2013. But the county also stares at a hidden cost next year if Minnesota voters approve a proposed state constitutional amendment requiring voters show identification at the polls. That was the message from Property Records and Taxpayer Services Director Jennifer Wagenius Tuesday during a Board of Commissioners budget workshop. Although the majority of the department’s projected 2013 revenue, more than $5.684 million, comes from non-levy fees collected by recording documents, assessments and revenue collected at license centers, Wagenius said her office will rely more on levy revenue to replace election equipment.

Minnesota: Fine print within photo ID proposal could loom large | Grand Forks Herald

The idea of a photo ID requirement for voters sounds simple and does well in polling, but the fine print of Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment suggests that the impact on the state’s election system could be complex and significant. Questions lurk behind the snappy title: What exactly is a “valid government-issued ID”? How will a new system of “provisional voting” work? What is the impact of “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility” standards on the state’s popular system of Election Day registration? None of the questions is unsolvable, and supporters say any changes will be for the good. But the complexity behind the “photo ID” catchphrase creates plenty of room to vigorously debate what the change will mean.

Arizona: Judge not buying arguments by foes of open primary ballot measure | East Valley Tribune

A state judge on Friday questioned efforts of foes of an open primary system to keep it from ever going to voters. The opponents contend that the proposed constitutional amendment illegally deals with too many disparate subjects. Attorney Mike Liburdi said that makes putting it on the November ballot improper. But during a hearing Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain suggested he was not buying all of Liburdi’s arguments that the measure, if approved, would change too many unrelated things. Brain also was skeptical of Liburdi’s contention that a 100-word description of the measure, included on each petition, did not comply with legal requirements that it be solely a factual description of what would change if approved. The attorney argued that proponents improperly used the description to convince people to sign. But Brain told Liburdi that under his interpretation of the law, there is no way anyone could accurately describe a ballot measure within 100 words. Liburdi started to craft an answer when Brain interjected. “They would say that it sucked,” the judge joshed.

Editorials: Minnesota ballot measures – the name game | StarTribune.com

Supporters of two state constitutional amendments up for a vote this November object to the ballot titles that Secretary of State Mark Richie has chosen. They’ve sued to overturn them. At the same time, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, declared that Ritchie had “thrown the Constitution and established case law out the window to serve his political interests” (“Ritchie’s rewording is out of bounds,” July 19). Actually, our state’s Constitution does provide quite a clear answer in this dispute — but it’s not the answer amendment supporters want to hear. We are part of a bipartisan group of professors from all four of the state’s law schools who submitted a brief supporting Ritchie’s authority to choose titles for both the marriage amendment and the “voter ID” amendment. The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week. But you don’t have to be a law professor, or even a lawyer, to understand the constitutional argument. Junior high school civics will be plenty. A Minnesota law, first enacted in 1919, says, “The secretary of state shall provide an appropriate title” for every question on the ballot. (Notice that’s “shall,” not “may” — and that it’s “appropriate,” not “whatever the proposal’s boosters prefer.”) It’s all part of the secretary’s role as the state’s chief election officer, which also includes everything from certifying voting systems to registering candidates.

Minnesota: GOP legislators take Ritchie to task over voter ID | StarTribune.com

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who has long campaigned against the Republican-backed election changes under the GOP’s photo ID proposal, was accused by GOP senators on Friday of crossing the line between running elections and trying to influence them. A Senate committee hearing, led by Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, who is also a candidate for Congress in the 1st Congressional District, focused on Ritchie’s criticism of a photo ID constitutional amendment and his decision to rewrite the title voters will see on the November ballot. Parry,  Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville; Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Baxter; and Sen.John Carlson, R-Bemidji, led the charge at the State Government Innovation Veterans Committee in criticizing the DFL Secretary of State. Neither Ritchie nor Attorney General Lori Swanson appeared before the hearing. The Republican-controlled Legislature voted this year to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would require in-person voters to show a photo ID, would set up a new system of two-step provisional voting for those without “government-issued” IDs, and would change eligibility and identity verification standards. No DFLers voted for the bill, and the two sides have bitterly contested the effect of the amendment, should it pass.

Minnesota: Voter ID amendment supporters sue over ballot question title change | TwinCities.com

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.

National: Disclosure Vote Leaves Trail of Broken Republican Vows | Bloomberg

Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted unanimously Monday and again on Tuesday to block adoption of the Disclose Act, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s legislation to require disclosure of political donations of more than $10,000 within 24 hours of the money being spent. The votes were no less remarkable for having been predictable. For years, congressional Republicans had vowed that disclosure of donations and spending was the one sure route to an honest campaign-finance system. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the field general who for two decades has organized the party’s attacks on campaign-finance regulation, including the McCain-Feingold reforms, once spoke eloquently of the sanctity of the First Amendment and of the merits of disclosure. What’s more, because McConnell in the 1990s had also come around to opposing constitutional amendments against flag burning, he had credibility as a First Amendment champion.

Arizona: Suit targets Arizona election measure | The Arizona Republic

A proposed constitutional amendment to create a new primary-election system violates the state’s single-subject rule and should not go before voters in November, a new lawsuit charges. The challenge to the Open Elections/Open Government effort comes from two Republicans, a Libertarian and the League of Women Voters of Arizona. In a filing in Maricopa County Superior Court, they allege the “top two” primary proposes multiple changes to the state’s election process, running afoul of the requirement that ballot measures propose only one substantive change. The filing marks the second time this month a high-stakes ballot issue faces a legal battle. Backers of a permanent 1-cent-per-dollar increase in the state sales tax to pay for education and construction projects are fighting to reinstate their measure on the Nov. 6 ballot. They head to court today. Secretary of State Ken Bennett disqualified the measure earlier this month, saying supporters did not follow proper procedures for filing and circulating their proposal.

Minnesota: State Supreme Court vigorously questions Photo ID supporters and opponents — but doesn’t tip hand | MinnPost

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday vigorously questioned attorneys from both sides of the Photo ID debate and is expected to rule by late August on whether the proposed constitutional amendment will appear on the November ballot. The suit, brought by the League of Women Voters and other activist groups, asks the court to strike the proposal from the ballot, arguing that the current language doesn’t accurately portray the amendment’s effects. An attorney for the state Legislature argued that the court lacks the authority to dictate the form or status of constitutional amendments. The justices’ mood in the courtroom — pointed at some times and lighthearted at others — gave little indication what the court will do with the amendment. At least two justices seemed to indicate that they consider the ballot question misleading — which is what opponents of the amendment argue — but then in almost the next breath defended the Legislature’s authority to craft amendments.

Minnesota: Photo ID details draw scrutiny of Minnesota’s high court | StarTribune.com

Minnesota Supreme Court justices peppered lawyers with pointed questions about the right to vote and the Legislature’s power as the volatile issue of photo ID landed at the state’s highest court Tuesday. “The right to vote is an institutional way to peacefully revolt,” said Justice Paul Anderson, who criticized parts of the proposed constitutional amendment. “It doesn’t get much bigger than this.” The stakes indeed are high. The League of Women Voters-Minnesota and other plaintiffs are asking the court to strike the issue completely from the Nov. 6 general election ballot, arguing that the question voters will see is misleading. The Republican-controlled Legislature, which voted to put the issue on the ballot, says that writing ballot questions is its sole prerogative, and that voters have a right to make the ultimate decision. Justices Paul Anderson, Alan Page and David Stras raised questions about differences between the language of the ballot question and language of the proposed constitutional amendment, which voters will not see on the ballot. “Don’t the people have a right to vote on something that’s not deceptive?” said Anderson. Page suggested that differences between the language of the ballot question and the actual amendment constituted “a bit of bait and switch. It seems to me, in responding to the ballot question, I can’t know what I’m voting on,” Page said.

Minnesota: Voter ID Amendment Draws Youth Activists | Colorlines

A coalition of groups led by the ACLU and the League of Women Voters made arguments in Minnesota’s Supreme Court yesterday against a ballot measure that would amend the state’s constitution to “require all voters to present valid photographic identification to vote.” The plaintiffs argue that the measure’s language obscures how the constitution would be changed. “Valid photographic identification” would only include those that were government-issued, and not other forms of ID, such as those issued by schools. Minnesota remains one of only seven states that does not use a provisional ballot system. This measure would institute provisional voting, but lawyers argue that the measure is misleading because it makes no mentione of the significant change to the way votes are counted when using provisional ballots. The measure, which will be decided by voters in November if the state’s high court allows it, also requires “the state to provide free identification to eligible voters.” Yet those IDs wouldn’t exactly be free—at minimum, taxpayers would foot the bill, as would voters who would first need to obtain a $26 birth certificate and travel up to 100 miles to a Department of Vehicle Services office to apply for their ID.