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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie recently sat for an interview with a North Dakota media outlet in which he was asked specifically about his opposition to the proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require a photo ID to vote in Minnesota. You can find the interview at the following link:
Despite the fact that a majority of Minnesotan’s believe the proposed requirement, to have a voter provide photo identification before they vote, is reasonable, Secretary of State Ritchie is adamantly opposed to the proposed amendment. If we take the Secretary of State at his word and we ignore for the moment the inherent conflict between his obligation as the public official responsible for the fair and honest administration of elections in Minnesota and his active and aggressive campaigning against the ballot initiative, I have to question the arguments he presents against photo ID.
According to Secretary of State Ritchie, requiring a photo ID to vote will fundamentally change the way we run elections in Minnesota.
Really? How? He claims that “many” people will be disenfranchised by requiring them to produce identification they don’t have and they can’t get; when the interviewer asks the Secretary of State to clarify, Mr. Ritchie references 31% of Minnesotan’s that requested a state issued ID last year and were denied. According to Secretary Ritchie, they were denied because they did not have the proper documents – presumably to verify their residency and/or citizenship. When the interviewer suggests these are not the people that should be voting anyway, Secretary of State Ritchie changes the subject.
Secretary of State Ritchie suggests the creation of the “provisional ballot” will create an entirely different system and would potentially delay election results. Of course, his argument ignores the fact that the issue of provisional ballots in states (ie Indiana and Georgia) that have passed laws requiring photo identification to vote has actually been addressed by the United State Supreme Court:
. . .
Scalia . . . said, “The universally applicable requirements of Indiana’s voter-identification law are eminently reasonable. The burden of acquiring, possessing and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not ‘even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.’”
Stevens said the partisan divide in Indiana, as well as elsewhere, was noteworthy. But he said that preventing fraud and inspiring voter confidence were legitimate goals of the law, regardless of who backed or opposed it.
Indiana provides IDs free of charge to the poor and allows voters who lack photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and then show up within 10 days at their county courthouse to produce identification or otherwise attest to their identity.
Stevens said these provisions also help reduce the burden on people who lack driver licenses.
Toward the end of the interview, Secretary of State Ritchie appears to become desperate to change the topic. In order to move away from the facts the interviewer so deftly continues to pound and the concept of election integrity (ie “What is wrong with more integrity in the election process?”), Secretary of State Ritchie asks the interviewer to please, please, please, read the actual language of the proposed amendment on air. Mr. Ritchie suggests/implies the language of the proposed amendment is complicated and that if the interviewer would read the actual language on air they could then go through the proposed amendment point by point. I’ll leave you to be the judge as to whether the language of the proposed amendment is overly complicated:
The question to be presented to the voters is as follows:
"Shall the MinnesotaConstitution 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?"
Contrary to Mr. Ritchie’s statements, the language appears to be rather straight forward and easy to understand. Is it possible that he was confusing the language of the proposed amendment with the language of the title that he rewrote purposely to make it confusing? Again, giving Mr. Ritchie the benefit of the doubt, it would be an easy mistake for him to make.*
*The Minnesota Legislature passed the amendment in the 2012 session to be on the ballot in November.
The legislature gave the amendment the title: "Photo Identification Required for Voting."
Earlier this summer, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie changed the title to: "Changes to In-person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration, Provisional Ballots."