Robert Knight

At the Minnesota Supreme Court on July 17, the ACLU argued that Gopher State people aren’t smart enough to be allowed to vote in November on whether to approve a voter photo ID constitutional amendment.

The group, which has sued to halt anti-vote-fraud measures in several other states, didn’t actually say that Minnesotans lack the brainpower to contend with tighter voter ID standards. The ACLU argued instead that the amendment language is too vague and the ballot wording is too simple.

The upshot is that Minnesotans, like hapless minorities who the ACLU says are incapable of obtaining IDs, apparently are too clueless to be trusted with deciding this issue.

Meanwhile, over in Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed bills sponsored by his own party, H.B. 5061 and S.B. 803, which would have required proof of U.S. citizenship to receive a ballot and a photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot. Snyder said he thought they would confuse voters, who apparently are suffering from the same defective reasoning ability as their Midwest neighbors.

Mr. Snyder did sign several other bills aimed at adding “appropriate safeguards” to the election process, but also vetoed a bill to require training people who conduct voter registration because, he said, it would confuse current efforts. Whatever his reasoning, Mr. Snyder’s actions are precious gifts to Democrats, who loudly – and falsely – allege that voter ID anti-fraud laws suppress minority voting.

A Republican legislature in Minnesota passed a photo ID law in 2011 in the wake of the contested 2008 election of Democrat U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by 312 votes after a series of recounts that included newly “found” ballots, some of them from a car trunk. Mr. Franken, you might recall, provided the necessary 60th vote in the U.S. Senate to pass ObamaCare.

An 18-month audit by Minnesota Majority reported by Fox News in 2010 revealed that “at least 341 convicted felons in largely Democratic Minneapolis-St. Paul voted illegally in the 2008 Senate race,” plus other rampant irregularities.

The ACLU, incidentally, is working in a number of states to restore voting privileges to released convicts. Do I need to mention that convicted criminals have an affinity for a particular party’s candidates?

On April 9, 2011, Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the voter ID amendment, which triggered the current ballot measure, passed by both houses of the legislature on April 4, that the ACLU is trying to kill.

Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who testified in the legislature against the ballot measure, is campaigning against it while insisting that he’s neutral. He says with a straight face that he fears it will cost taxpayers too much money.

Ritchie, who was elected first in 2006 as part of the leftwing, George Soros-backed Secretary of State Project (and re-elected in 2010), oversaw the multiple recounts that put Franken over the top in 2008. Recently, he unilaterally changed the name of the current ballot measure from the simple “Photo Identification Required for Voting” to “Changes to in-person & absentee voting & voter registration; provisional ballots.”

He played a similar trick on the other constitutional amendment on Minnesota’s November ballot, “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.” Ritchie’s rewrite transformed a positive into a negative: “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.”

Representing a number of “non-partisan” liberal groups, including the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Jewish Community Action and Common Cause Minnesota, the ACLU’s Chuck Samuelson told the Minnesota Supreme Court that the voter ID bill would disenfranchise many voters, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

The ACLU’s main complaint is that the single sentence description does not contain enough detail and would mislead voters. Nonsense, replies Dan McGrath, of Minnesota Majority, which backs the ballot measure.

“The Legislature, when posing a ballot question to the people, essentially has to frame it as a one sentence question. And the essence of the amendment is conveyed in that sentence as they posed it,” McGrath said.

The proposed ballot measure is worded this way:

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Hmm. That’s a bit on the straightforward side. Wonder how the ACLU, if given the chance, would summarize ObamaCare if that 2,700-word monstrosity of a law was reduced to a ballot measure? Think they’d leave a few things out?

I don’t think that it’s all that complicated, and I hereby submit this sample ballot language:

“ObamaCare nationalizes the entire health care system and reduces U.S. citizens to government subjects. Vote yes or no.” But I digress.

In its brief, the ACLU complains that the requirement for all voters to show “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification” before voting “is so vague that it is anyone’s guess what effect it will ultimately have on Minnesota’s voting system….” Such as reducing the number of voters who are unqualified, illegal or dead?

This is the same ACLU, remember, that has no problem with vagueness when it comes to adding the infinitely elastic term “sexual orientation” to civil rights and “hate crime” laws in order to advance a radical political agenda that will someday criminalize the Boy Scouts, Christianity and Orthodox Judaism if fully implemented. One man’s vagueness is another man’s legal hammer.

The Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to rule on the photo ID measure by Labor Day, in time for the state to print the question – or not – on the November 6 ballot.

Perhaps Minnesotans will be allowed to curb vote fraud in time for Al Franken’s re-election try in 2014. It won’t be as interesting, but it might produce a more honest election.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.