Given the multitude of scurrilous attacks on the voter ID amendment, it is somewhat amazing it did as well as it did. Opponents, organized primarily through an umbrella group called Our Vote, Our Future, raised massive sums of left-wing money and easily outspent the proamendment forces.
America Votes, "whose mission is to build a permanent progressive campaign infrastructure," donated $100,000 to OVOF. Dollars flowed in from every conceivable activist group in the country, including AARP, SEIU, AFL-CIO, ACLU, Education Minnesota, Planned Parenthood, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Of course, all the donors had one thing in common -- they want something from the taxpayer. And that's worth preserving -- even if it means the most lax election laws in the nation. Yes, you need an ID to buy Sudafed, but to vote in Minnesota, a close "friend" can merely vouch for up to 15 people on election day.
As John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky chronicle in their new book "Who's Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk," Democratic get-out-the-vote groups in Minneapolis apparently vouched for persons they didn't know in 2010. In fact, when one felon who voted illegally for Al Franken in 2008 was asked if she thought it helped, her reply was, "I don't know, but I hope it did."
Obviously, this mattered little to the opponents of voter ID. Witness the mendacious television ad featuring Mark Dayton, the incumbent governor, and Arne Carlson, the accidental one. These two men -- who have done so much to disenfranchise Minnesota workers from their wallets -- were more than willing to turn their expertise on voters. At one point in the ad, the dynamic duo actually suggested that requiring a "valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot" would make it more difficult, if not impossible, for those in the military to vote.
Most lies are born of desperation, but there's no excuse for these two career politicians to deliberately mislead voters. Forget for a moment that disenfranchising service members would hardly be a goal of the political right; the fact is that military IDs are a) accepted under current law for voting, and b) by definition both government-issued and photographic.
Then there was the hyperventilating over the use of provisional ballots should someone fail to prove their identity at the polls. David Schultz, a liberal law professor at Hamline University and past president-lobbyist-executive director at Common Cause Minnesota (when he's not moonlighting as an "objective analyst" on local television) authored a study sponsored by "Citizens for Election Integrity" suggesting all sorts of voter suppression if the amendment were to pass.
Strange, considering that it was the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002 that introduced "provisional ballots" nationwide. The idea was to ensure that voters turned away at the polls could still cast a ballot. Presumably, voter ID opponents such as Schultz and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie think that this provision in federal law, passed by wide margins in both houses, is bad policy.
Groups such as the League of Woman Voters, Common Cause and the ACLU (which sought unsuccessfully to block Minnesotans from even voting on the measure) also claimed the amendment would have required costly legislation in order to enforce it. Really? You mean like the reams of legislation passed to implement voting guarantees under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Are those the type of enforcing statutes opponents thought too cumbersome?
Surely not, because they're using one of them, the Voting Rights Act, to block implementation of ID requirements in other states. Nevertheless, more than 30 states have now passed such laws without a whimper, save for activist groups who see them as a threat to liberal interests. As recently as 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Indiana's voter ID law was "amply justified by the valid interests in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.'"
And that's why opponents of the voter ID initiative had to resort to outright lies in order to defeat it. A pack of lies.
Jason Lewis is a nationally syndicated talk-show host based in Minneapolis-St. Paul and is the author of "Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States' Rights" from Bascom Hill Publishing. He can be heard locally from 5 to 8 p.m. on NewsTalk Radio, 1130-AM, and at jasonlewisshow.com.