Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ACLU Sues to Stop Minnesota Voter ID Ballot Proposal

The Minnesota ACLU, along with the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause, Jewish Community Action, and five Minnesota voters, filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court seeking to strike a ballot question that, if passed, would amend the Minnesota Constitution to require voter ID.

The petitioners claim in their Brief and Addendum that the ballot question is false, misleading, and an incomplete description of what the amendment would actually do--in violation of Article IX, Section 1, of the Minnesota Constitution.  That Section provides that proposed amendments shall be "submitted to the people for their approval or rejection."  The Minnesota Supreme Court interprets it considering whether the language of the ballot question would mislead a voter of common intelligence to the proposed amendment's actual meaning and effect.

Here's what the legislature required the ballot to say:

Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?



And here's what the amendment to the Constitution would say:

(b) All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot.  The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section.  A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot.  A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.  

(c) 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.

The petitioners argue that the ballot question misleads in five ways:

1. It says that the amendment would require photo ID from "all voters," but the amendment actually only requires it from those who vote "in person."

2. It omits any mention of the "substantially equivalent" verification provision.

3. It fails to disclose that the proposed amendment would requirement government-issued ID (and not just any ID).

4. It fails to disclose that the proposed amendment would require provisional voting.

5. It has a misleading title for the proposed amendment--"Photo Identification Required for Voting."

The proposed amendment came about after the legislature first passed voter ID and the governor vetoed it.  Rather than overriding the veto, the legislature voted to put the measure on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.


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