Minnesota Voters Struggle over Fate of Voter ID Constitutional Amendment

by Jeremy Griffith

State Rep. Mike Benson-R and State Sen. Carla Nelson meet with constituents at a town hall event in Rochester, MN. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

State Rep. Mike Benson-R and State Sen. Carla Nelson-R meet with constituents at a town hall event in Rochester, MN. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Voter ID Historical Review from Jeremy Griffith on Vimeo.

(Video: a historical update of the Voter ID Amendment debate thus far. -video by Jeremy Griffith)

On Nov. 6, Minnesotans rejected a constitutional amendment to require photo ID at the polls at future elections. Polling for the favorability of the measure was high towards the middle of the election year, but waned gradually as the election approached due to the vigorous campaigning of Democratic political campaigns and the bipartisan OurVoteOurFuture.org.

Principal architect of the measure, Minnesota Majority President Dan McGrath, voiced his disappointment to the St. Paul Pioneer Press when the votes began to be tallied.

“It started to look like an insurmountable lead for the opposition on this, ” McGrath said.

But the outcome could not have been predicted six months prior when favorability for the bill appeared to be high. The Secretary of State’s office statistics as reported by the Pioneer Press show that only 46.3 percent of Minnesotans voting favored the measure with just shy of 99 percent of the precincts tallied.  In May we reported polling data from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, showing that the majority was in favor of the ballot initiative. A later poll in September showed that support was beginning to wane, but was still on the side of the amendment. You can see the results of that poll in a graphic visualization below.

The fight for initiating a voter photo ID law started following the election of Senator Al Franken over incumbent Norm Coleman back in 2008. Many on the right believed that Franken’s razor thin victory following a recount effort was fueled by fraud and deception and groups gained prominence in efforts to clean up the Minnesota election process.

McGrath founded the ProtectOurVote.com group and began investigating election irregularities, many of which resulted in charges of felony fraud on the part of a few. A full history of the efforts of these groups can be found at their respective websites at ProtectMyVote.com and MinnesotaMajority.org.

In 2011, the legislature passed a measure requiring voter ID at the polls by a vast majority, but the measure was vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton. Unable to overcome the governor’s veto, the legislature began looking at other ways to pass voter ID laws, and came up with the constitutional amendment idea, a measure that did not require the governor’s signature. The legislature voted April 4, 2012 to include the measure as a ballot initiative for the November general election.

Two of southern Minnesota’s prominent state legislators supported the bill, Rep. Mike Benson and Sen. Carla Nelson, both republicans.

“I think this is an issue that has been building,” Benson said. “This time around with both houses of the legislature in the (Republican) majority hands we thought it was the right time to go ahead with having hearings on this.”

According to Benson, the voter ID law if passed would not have eliminated same day voting; would provide for provisional balloting for those who do not have ID on election day; and would provide photo ID for those who can’t afford it.

Rep. Benson on Voter ID Amendment from Jeremy Griffith on Vimeo.

(Video: Minnesota State Rep. Mike Benson explains the history of the Voter Photo ID Constitutional amendment. -Video by Jeremy Griffith)

Carla Nelson Interview from Jeremy Griffith on Vimeo.

(Video: Minnesota State Senator Carla Nelson comments on the proposed Voter Photo ID Constitutional Amendment. -video by Jeremy Griffith)

State Senator Carla Nelson spoke about the problems with  the practice of voter vouching and how the situation would have been fixed had the new amendment passed.

“In the past we allowed an eligible voter to vouch for up to 15 others,” Nelson said. “I don’t think I know 15 people in my district who don’t have IDs. This amendment would eliminate the practice of vouching.”

Minnesota was one of only two states to have provisions for vouching and the only state to allow an eligible voter to vouch for multiple undocumented voters. Below you will find a visual graphic depicting the current status of states and their respective voter ID laws, with data provided by the National Conference for State Legislatures.

Wall Street Journal writer and Fox News contributor John Fund lent his support for the Minnesota ballot initiative, visiting the state several times to rally supporters. He spoke to a group in St. Paul and participated in a televised debate with the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Fund is the author of the book, “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrat’s Put Your Vote at Risk”. 

“This is America! “Fund told supporters. “We can make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We can do both at the same time.”

“This is America! We can make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We can do both at the same time!” -John Fund, WSJ

As support for the Voter ID Amendment began to gather steam, opposition also stiffened. Over 80 organizations voiced their opposition for the measure, including the League of Women Voters and the Minnesota ACLU. Another group emerged from this coalition and formed the bipartisan group OurVoteOurFuture.org. The most prominent supporters of the group include former Governor Arne Carlson and Rep. Tim Penny.

The first evidence of the waning of support and the growing opposition appeared during a debate at Metro State University in St. Paul last October. Dan McGrath represented ProtectMyVote.com and Doran Shrantz of OurVoteOurFuture squared off in a 90-minute televised debate over this issue. Many of the audience members carried signs showing opposition to the amendment initiative.

McGrath made a strong argument for the amendment, but his rhetoric was not enough to overcome the opposition laid out by Schrantz.

“All of what you hear about the amendment tonight is wild speculation at best,” said McGrath. “If it’s not in the bill, it’s not going to happen.”

“This amendment will vastly change our election law in this state,” said Schrantz. “Many including the old, the poor and minorities, our servicemen overseas will be disenfranchised by this stark rewriting of our election law.”

A full video of the Metro State debate is available from Uptake.org’s You Tube Channel.

While voter ID laws are gaining ground in the nation, it is unclear whether new efforts to adopt such legislation here in the state of Minnesota, especially since both houses of the legislature and the office of the Governor are now under DFL control once again.

(Minneapolis Star Tribune Poll on Voter ID favoribility just prior to the election Nov. 6. -visualization by Jeremy Griffith.)

(States with Voter ID Laws on the books. Source Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. -Visualization by Jeremy Griffith.

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Voter ID History So Far

(Video by Jeremy Griffith)

History of the Voter ID Debate in Minnesota

In November, Minnesotans will vote on election day for or against a controversial pair of amendments, one upholding the definition of traditional marriage and the other on requiring photo ID at the polls. We will be examining the photo ID constitutional amendment.

The voter ID law has been an issue since the heavily contested election of Al Franken as senator over the incumbent Norm Coleman. The election was so tight that voter fraud was alleged and recounts and legal challenges mounted. In the end Franken was elected, but a need had arisen in the eyes of many to clean up the Minnesota election system.

Dan McGrath of Minnesota Majority has led the charge to require voter ID laws since the 2008 election. He has turned up instances of voter irregularities and fraud and has helped draft voter ID legislation.

In 2010, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the law that was approved largely on a partisan basis. He says the law would disenfranchise many voters who cannot afford an ID.

In an effort to get the matter into law, the Minnesota Majority and protectmyvote.com people have sought the make the issue into a constitutional amendment that would have the power to bypass the governor’s veto. This puts the matter directly in the hands of the voter.

Over 80 organizations in the state oppose the voter ID amendment saying it would serve to restrict voter turnout and disenfranchise voters unable to obtain ID.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie who opposes the law, changed the name of the ballot initiative without the consent of the legislature. The issue was taken to court and the supreme court of Minnesota ruled that the Secretary did not have the right to change the name of the initiative on the ballot where the legislature had already done so.

Opposition of the law includes the Secretary of State, The Governor, and the League of Women Voters, and most recently OurVoteOurFuture. On Thursday Dan McGrath debated OurVoteOurFuture’s Doran Schrantz on public television. Local legislators who support the bill includes former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who authored the bill, Rep. Mike Benson, and Sen. Carla Nelson, to name a few.

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal has written a book on the issue of voter fraud entitled “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”. He supports the Minnesota Voter ID amendment and has visited Minnesota often to talk about this issue. Recently he spoke to amendment supporters in Minnesota and debated Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

For more information on this issue, follow American Millennium Online.com.

(Below see a the most recent poll regarding Voter ID from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)

(Visualization by Jeremy Griffith based on statistics from the Star Tribune Poll.)

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Voter ID Debate at Metro State University

In case you missed it, here is a sample of the one and only voter ID debate at Metro State University between Minnesota Majority’s Dan McGrath and OurVoteOurFuture.org’s Doran Schrantz. The debate took place at Metro State University Thursday Oct. 4th and was sponsored by Debate Minnesota, with Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press moderating.  (Video by Jeremy Griffith, The American Millennium Online)

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Video: WSJ Contributor John Fund Visits St. Paul

John Fund from Jeremy Griffith on Vimeo.

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WSJ’s John Fund Visits St. Paul, Gives Voter Fraud Talk

by Jeremy Griffith

John Fund, author, Fox News and WSJ contributor. – photo by Jeremy Griffith

Wall Street Journal and Fox News contributor John Fund was in St. Paul, Minnesota Monday to promote his new book and to talk to fans about the issue of requiring voter ID at the polls in order to prevent voter fraud.

Fund’s book, entitled “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk”, prominently features issues of alleged voter fraud in Minnesota during the 2008 election campaign in its opening chapter.

“I at least wanted to come here to thank the folks who read my work, who watch my various appearances on the networks, to at least thank you for your support,” said Fund.”You pay my salary!”

“I know there are a lot of people who will hear a lot of different things about the Voter ID amendment. Our goal is this,” said Fund. “It’s what Democratic Senator Chris Dodd said when we passed the bipartisan ‘Help America Vote’ act, which by the way says contrary to the opponents of this amendment a military ID is a valid government ID, no military personnel will be denied the right to vote.”

“What (Dodd) said is, ‘this is America! We can make it easy to vote and hard to cheat!” said Fund, quoting Dodd. “We can do both at the same time!”

“This is America! We can make it easy to vote and hard to cheat! We can do both at the same time!” -John Fund, Wall Street Journal

Fund’s appearance was facilitated by Minnesota Majority and ProtectMyVote.com and took place at O’Gara’s Bar and Grill in St. Paul. Both organizations have been active in drafting legislation in Minnesota and raising awareness of voter disenfranchisement due to voter fraud. A full video of Fund’s remarks is available here.

Minnesota Majority Chairman Dan McGrath, introduced the key note speaker. McGrath helped write legislation requiring voter identification at the polls. A ballot question setting forth a constitutional amendment to require voter ID at the polls will be voted on by the electorate in November’s general election.

Dan McGrath, Minnesota Majority. – photo by Jeremy Griffith

“My grandmother is 92-years old, she has photo ID,” McGrath said, explaining his rational for support of ballot question. “She needs it to see her doctor and pick up her prescriptions. The idea (of the opposition) that senior citizens won’t be able to vote is nonsense.”

“‘It’s going to eliminate same day registration’, they say,” said McGrath said, quoting opposition to the amendment. “Absolute nonsense. Nothing in the amendment calls for that, nothing in statue implies that is going to happen. It’s a desperate lie and nothing more!”

Since the 2008 election, McGrath has almost single-handedly bird-dogged the Voter ID fraud issue, resulting in the placement of the ballot initiative on the ballot and the conviction of over 200 cases of voter fraud.

McGrath and Minnesota Majority won a major victory early this month when the Supreme Court decided that the Secretary of State Mark Ritchie does not have the authority to change the title of ballot questions as they appear on the ballot when the legislature has already decided on a name. Ritchie, along with Attorney General Lori Swanson, who both oppose the Voter ID amendment, approved the name change of two ballot initiatives, the Voter ID amendment question and the Traditional Marriage Amendment. The Supreme Court’s decision chastises state officials for changing the title of the amendments and restores the original titles as they will appear on the amendment.

According to McGrath, a lot of work is needed to raise awareness about the Voter ID Amendment ballot question to inform voters and dispel myths from the opposition.

“We need to spend some money getting this message out there, refuting those lies, using logic and reason to explain how the amendment works and what it doesn’t do,” said McGrath.

“We need to spend some money getting this message out there, refuting those lies, using logic and reason to explain how the amendment works and what it doesn’t do,” -Dan McGrath, Minnesota Majority.

Legislation to require voter ID at the polls was vetoed earlier by Governor Mark Dayton. A constitutional amendment has the power to overcome a governor’s veto. Constitutional amendments like the Voter ID and Marriage Amendments require a majority of voters to pass, and a abstention from voting equals a no vote according to Minnesota Statues.

The League of Women Voters is one of nearly 80 organizations who oppose the Voter ID ballot question, saying it will disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and military voters serving overseas.

ProtectMyVote.com staff hand out campaign signs at an event in St. Paul. John Fund of WSJ spoke in favor of a voter ID amendment in Minnesota. – photo by Jeremy Griffith

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