Now that Photo ID is headed to the ballot, opponents are organizing to defeat it.
A host of organizations, including the Minnesota AFL-CIO, the League of Women Voters- Minnesota and AARP were joined by other labor, community, rural and public interest groups in announcing a campaign of "truth-telling" to convince voters to defeat it.
The Republican-controlled Minnesota Legislature passed the measure last week as a proposed constitutional amendment, meaning it must be submitted to voters in the Nov. 6 general election. If passed, it would require voters to show a photo ID, would set up a system of two-step "provisional" voting for those without ID, would end "vouching" for those registering on Election Day and would make changes to voter-registration requirements.
Throughout the committee hearings and floor votes on the issue, all the "yes" votes were supplied by Republican legislators.
If the ballot question is passed by a majority of those voting, the 2013 Legislature would have to pass a law that puts the amendment into effect.
"Today we our proud to announce Our Vote Our Future, that is united to defeat the photo ID constitutional amendment," said Dan McGrath of the liberal organization TakeAction Minnesota, which is helping to organize the anti-photo-id coalition. He called the amendment "a measure that would radically rewrite the rules of Minnesota's first-in-the nation election system."
"This proposed amendment is costly, restrictive, and unnecessary,'' said McGrath. "It effectively ends Election Day Registration and burdens Minnesotans with the unnecessary costs of a new provisional ballot system."
Polls have shown strong support for the concept of requiring all voters to show a photo ID. "We recognize we are the underdogs in this fight," McGrath said. "We also know that the conditions to defeat the voter ID amendment already exist." He said 2012 is a "turnout election" due to the presidential race, and added, "Big turnout helps us."
"The job of our campaign is to peel back the layers of the voter ID amendment, just like an onion. As voters do this, they will realize, this voter amendment stinks," McGrath said.
Shar Knutson, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, said the labor movement was built on democracy and the organization will work to convince its members and supporters to vote against the amendment. Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, said township officials are concerned about costs and effects on absentee and mail-in voting. Alfred Babington-Johnson, CEO of the Stairstep Foundation, a project of African-American churches, said he feared that the voter-suppression efforts of Jim Crow laws of the south were returning with the photo ID amendment.
Other organizations that will work to oppose the amendment include the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, Common Cause Minnesota, the Hmong American Partnership, the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, the state's Building and Construction Trades Council, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, the Sierra Club North Star Chapter and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.