A state senator who sponsored the proposed photo ID constitutional amendment took his beef against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to a judge on Friday.
Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, filed a complaint accusing Ritchie, a DFLer who opposes the amendment, of using his website, staff and state resources to promote his political opposition to the measure. An Administrative Law Judge heard arguments in the case Friday without making a decision.
Lawyers for the two sides are to submit further briefs before the judge, Bruce Johnson, decides if there is probable cause for the case to go forward.
In a hearing-by-telephone that reporters listened into, Newman said Ritchie is "making grossly inaccurate misstatements concerning the constitutional amendment, and he knows he's doing it."
He said Ritchie's statement as to costs of the changes in election law, their effects on same-day registration and absentee and mail-in balloting are incorrect. "He says this constitutional amendment is going to end same-day voting registration," Newman said. "That is not a true statement."
Most opponents of the amendment make the same statement because the proposed amendment also requires "substantially equivalent" registration procedures for all voters. Doing that at the polls on election day would be impossible, opponents say, and could limit or end same day registration.
Ritchie's attorney, Kristyn Anderson, said Newman had no evidence, beyond his own assertions, that the statements are false. On the issue of costs, she cited a state fiscal note that backed up Ritchie's position.
Ritchie is the state's chief elections officer. "His core responsibilities include communicating to the public about issues that impact election law in Minnesota," she said. "The public needs to know the information that elected officials in the executive branch of government have to communicate."
In an affidavit submitted this week, Ritchie reiterated his beliefs on the costs and effects of photo ID, including that it would effectively end same-day registration. He said the statements "continue to be true and correct."
His affidavit follows: