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.
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.
… 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.”