The drive to defeat a series of changes to Minnesota's election law, including imposition of a new photo ID requirement for voters, will be led by prominent Republican and Democratic elder statesmen.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Democrat, and former Gov. Arne Carlson, a Republican, were announced Tuesday as co-chairs of the campaign to defeat photo ID. The requirement and related changes, including provisional balloting and uniform registration, will be on the general election ballot in November as a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution.
Mondale and Carlson will be joined by Dr. Josie Johnson, a long-time civil rights activist and former member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, and former U.S. Rep. Tim Penny, who served in Congress as a Democrat and later ran for governor as a member of the Independence Party of Minnesota.
All four sharply denounced the measure at a news conference on Tuesday.
"Minnesota doesn't have an elections problem," said Mondale, a former state Attorney General, U.S. Senator, Vice President and candidate for president. He mentioned extensive, ballot-by-ballot recounts in 2008 and 2010 that found no evidence of fraud. "This is a clean, solid, exemplary state," Mondale said, and added that the Republican-passed amendment was an attempt to "discourage voting."
"It terrifies me," said Carlson, governor from 1991-1999. He said it was an attempt by a national organization funded by the conservative Koch brothers to influence elections around the country. "It comes from the Koch brothers," said Carlson, adding that there was no legislative research or evidence that suggested there were problems the amendment is needed to solve.
Carlson said voters need to understand the fine print behind the "photo ID" label, which includes limits on same-day registration, significant changes to absentee balloting and a system of "three-step" voting for those without government-issued identification. This system of "provisional" voting would require a first vote, which would not be counted; then a search for the required IDs; then a confirming visit to show officials the government-issued documents, opponents of the amendment said.
"How many of you would vote if you faced a three-step process?"Carlson asked the news conference.
Penny said he feared that military serving overseas could "hassled as they try to cast a vote." He noted that the state convention of the Independence Party, meeting this weekend,approved a resolution opposing the proposed constitutional amendment on photo ID.
Johnson said as an 81-year-old African American woman, she has lived through times when poll taxes and literacy tests were applied to black voters in the south. She said opposing the photo ID amendment is "fundamentally about justice."