Ritchie vindicated; judge rules his statements about voter restriction are accurate


Tea Party Republicans are furious that Mark Ritchie doesn’t want to stop Minnesotans from voting. As Secretary of State, it’s his job to protect our right to vote, but they seem to think he should be complicit in radically altering our election system. When Ritchie refused to play along, Sens. Scott Newman and Mike Parry sued him, accusing him of misleading voters and compelling his staff to campaign against the amendment.

Yesterday, Ritchie was vindicated on all charges as an Administrative Law Judge dismissed the complaint against him. The judge ruled that Ritchie’s website contains accurate information about the amendment, and called the accusation that he compelled his staff to campaign against the amendment “a bald inference unaccompanied by any supporting evidence.”

So, since Ritchie’s statements on the Voter Restriction Amendment have been vindicated, here’s another look at a few of his messages to the voters.

Why the Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would End Same-day Registration:

Currently voters are allowed to register on Election Day and to cast a ballot at the polling place which is counted with the other ballots. However, the proposed amendment requires all voters to be subject to “substantially equivalent eligibility verification”. This would mean that same day registrants could not have a ballot counted until their eligibility had been verified in essentially the same way as pre-registered voters….

There is simply no way to conduct all of these checks while the voter is standing there. Polling places would have to have access to all the databases listed above AND mail out a postcard in order to meet the proposed eligibility verification requirements. Clearly, this would be impossible.

How proposed constitutional amendment would impact absentee voting by mail, by those voting overseas, and by those voting in mail-ballot precincts:

The proposed amendment states that, “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.”

This means that absentee and mail ballot voters will have to have their identity and eligibility verified in a way equal to that of voters who vote in-person. But how is this possible? In Minnesota over 210,000 ballots in a presidential year are cast by absentee, mail-in or overseas voters. This includes the 195,000 Minnesotans who voted absentee by mail, the approximately 11,500 military and overseas voters and the 45,000 registered voters in mail ballot precincts around the state….

In-person voters will have their identity verified by presenting a valid government-issued photo ID to the election judge who can look at the voter and then at the picture on the ID to ensure that they are the same person. How could someone who is in Arizona or Iraq have their identity verified in a substantially equivalent way, when they cannot physical present their ID in person and clearly are not there for the election judge to see?

Impact of Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Elections

In all other states, photo ID legislation has included a wide variety of exemptions ranging from military voters and people with religious objections to being photographed like the Amish, to people with disabilities and nursing home residents. Since, no exceptions are included in this proposal, it will apply to “all voters”. Since this language would now be in the Constitution, it could not be changed by any further legislature. The requirement that the ID must be “government-issued” instead of “government-approved” means that certain forms of ID which are now permitted would no longer be acceptable, including those IDs issued to students from private colleges (Bethel, St. Olaf, etc.). There was a bi-partisan proposal to permit the future use of new technologies to identify voters, but it was rejected. The result is that if the amendment is adopted Minnesota would not be authorized to use more modern means of identification….

Since Minnesota does not currently have provisional balloting, there would be startup costs to local and state agencies of $50 million and additional on-going costs for local governments of over $10 million that would need to be paid through local taxes. Adopting this new provisional balloting system would trigger oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Help America Vote Act. Election results would be delayed until the end of the provisional voting period, or longer, if rejected voters appeal to the Supreme Court.

Remember, an administrative law judge has now ruled that all of these statements are accurate.