About 1330 people live down in Houston County's Spring Grove, Minnesota, a pretty, historic small town where the state's first Norwegians settled and there's a still local pop made, at the Spring Grove Bottling Works.
There's also a small newspaper, part of the Bluff Country group, and its publisher has just come out against the voter restriction amendment. David Phillips writes in PUBLISHER'S NOTEBOOK: More questions, than answers on voter ID:
If you study political lawn signs, you'll notice that opinions on the voter ID amendment to the Minnesota Constitution follow party lines. Yards supporting DFL candidates have signs against the amendment and yards full of signs for Republican candidates have signs supporting the amendment.
That follows the lead of the Legislature, which voted to place the question on the ballot this fall with a nearly unanimous partisan vote.
The measure to put the question on the ballot was supported only by Republicans. Every Republican, except state Sen. Jeremy Miller, in both the House and Senate voted in favor of this proposal.
The partisan nature of this amendment makes it unworthy of being on the ballot. Although the state constitution doesn't have the weight of our national Constitution, amendments should be nonpartisan in nature, rather than an attempt by one party go get around a DFL governor veto.
Miller supports voter ID. He voted for a bill in the Legislature last session that was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton, but opposes the end-around the veto in the form of a constitutional amendment because "I do not believe we should legislate through the constitution," he said in response to a question from our newspaper.
But it's not just Miller, Phillips observes:
Tom Horner and Tim Penny, former Independent Party candidates for governor, in a column for the Star Tribune wrote: "The proposed voter ID constitutional amendment is a solution in search of a problem. Advocates of the amendment argue that Minnesota leads the nation in voter fraud. The reality? Even during the hotly contested and lengthy recount accompanying the 2008 Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman - with high-priced lawyers and partisan advocates spending millions of dollars to gain any edge - fraud wasn't found or even credibly claimed."
Arne Carlson, a former Republican governor, as reported in the Post-Bulletin, said "How dare any legislative body, Democrat or Republican, put on the ballot a constitutional amendment that it itself doesn't fully understand, that is not the result of a study and not identifying the true problem it is designed to resolve, and it can't look voters in the face and tell them how it's going to work."
Read the entire column; it's thoughtful stuff that seeks to explore the issue outside of political parties' agendas.
Duluth is nearly as far north as you can get in Minnesota from Spring Grove and not be in the North Woods, and yet the editors come to the same conclusion. The Duluth News Tribune's editorial board writes in Our view: Vote no on Minnesota marriage, voter ID amendments; wrong way to legislate:
Constitutions are all about the structuring of government; they offer overall guiding principles and framework to help make sure our rulers don’t trample on our personal rights and liberties. They’re big-picture documents.
Also, constitutions don’t change, generally speaking, so Founders are careful about what to include in them, as St. Louis County Auditor/Treasurer Donald Dicklich pointed out in a newspaper commentary last month.
Minnesota voters on Nov. 6 can be just as careful with the state’s constitution. They can vote “no” on a pair of ballot questions that aren’t as constitutional as they are legislative, as they are matters more appropriate for our lawmakers’ careful deliberations and decisions. . . .
Another worthwhile read. And Minnesota Public Radio reports in Native Americans and voter ID: Is there a problem?:
The Indian Country Today Media Network last week wrote, "The right to use tribal identification as legal voter ID in the state was a hard won battle for Minnesota's Native population." That battle was fought with then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, now the chief proponent of the photo ID amendment.
The network site wrote:Although Kiffmeyer's legislative assistant, Kileen Lindgren, assured Indian Country Today Media Network that tribal ID would be considered legal under the new law, she was unable to provide any written documentation supporting this claim.
To learn about opportunities talk to your neighbors and friends about why they should vote no on voter restriction, visit Our Vote, Our Future. To learn more about the consequences of the amendment for Greater Minnesota, check out Greater MN Counts. Like the Facebook page Minnesotans Vote No Twice.
Photo: Author of the House version of the voter restriction amendment, Representative Mary Kiffmeyer wages a war on voters.