(A conversation with EJ Haust, blogger for conservativedailynews.com, regarding her experience with voter ID, poll watching, and absentee balloting. -interview by Jeremy Griffith)
By Jeremy Griffith
EJ Haust has been living in the Minnesota in the Twin Cities Metro area for over five years. Before that she lived in Florida, where she went to college, Alabama and other places. Despite not living in Florida for over a decade, she still receives voter registration letters from her old district. Again and again she contacts that old district attempting to remove her name from the voter rolls, and every time she gets the same answer, ‘yes of course we will’.
But then, as is the case every election year, despite her protests, she receives a notification form the Florida board of elections. This time she had a conversation with a poll worker and floated the question, would it be possible to get an absentee ballot. The poll station worker agreed it was possible. She thanked him and once again asked that her name be removed from the list. The poll worker agreed and hung up.
This election season, following that conversation, Haust received an absentee ballot, without even asking for it. Asking if it were possible to get one, apparently meant that the state of Florida was obligated to send one.
We contacted Haust to ask her to tell her story. The interview is included above. In the interview, Haust explains her story, what she saw as a poll worker this election season, and expressed her feelings on the failed voter ID constitutional amendment and its aftermath.
In addition to this interview, Haust’s columns on Voter ID issues, early voting, absentee ballots, and potential voter fraud can be found at consevativedailynews.com here.
(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.
(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.
“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.”
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.
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.)
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)
Earlier we wrote about the constitutional amendment ballot initiative that will require all Minnesotans to carry valid photo ID at the polls. On Thursday, two knowledgeable advocates of the ballot initiative spoke to a group of Tea Party Patriots at Rochester’s Godfather’s Pizza to educate them on the latest news about the amendment and to dispel rumors.
John Rouleau of St. Paul is a political activist and field director of ProtectMyVote.com. His message is to not believe the hype that the law will disenfranchise voters who can’t afford an ID, the elderly, shut ins, the military serving overseas, college students and the like.
“I got my ID in college” said Rouleau. “I’m kind of insulted that they think that I’m not smart enough to do that! “
Rouleau points out that the military voting laws cover absentee balloting for servicemen and women overseas and that the law when enected by the legislature will include provisional balloting and free photo ID for those who cannot get it any other way.
State Senator Mike Parry-R was on hand at the meeting and spoke to voters on issues currently facing the ballot initiative. He intends to call key government officials into committee hearings Friday to hear why they oppose the ballot initiative properly voted on in the legislature and why they won’t let it go to the people for a vote, campaigning against it with tax-payer dollars. One of the members Parry intends to call before committee is State Secretary of State Mark Ritchie-DFL who has opposed the measure from the beginning and has recently changed the name of the ballot question, which Parry believes is outside his authority.
“Our whole purpose in my committee meeting tomorrow is to show a pattern of (Ritchie) using taxpayer dollars to actually campaign against not only the Voter ID Law but the marriage amendment,” said Parry.
It is likely the Secretary of State will not show, but send a representative, Parry said, in which case, his committee has subpoena power, he said.
Ritchie has said from the beginning that there is no voter fraud in Minnesota, while Rouleau cites statistics saying that Minnesota leads the nation in the number of voter fraud convictions. Information and a history of the ballot initiative is available at the Minnesota Majority website and at ProtectMyVote.com.
A recent poll conducted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune shows that the majority of Minnesota residents across the spectrum are in favor of some sort of photo ID requirement at the polls. Below you can see an infographic showing the numbers in that poll.
The Star Tribune’s Scott Newman writes Wednesday that the rewording of the ballot initiative by Ritchie is “out of bounds”.
The ballot question comes up for a vote in the November election. An abstention from voting equals a no vote according to constitutional amendment rules in Minnesota.