Voter ID supporters, opponents trade barbs

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota say nobody won its cash reward for proof of a prosecuted voter impersonation case that a proposed voter ID constitutional amendment would have prevented.

Just two claims were made on the $1,000 reward, including one from the pro voter ID group Minnesota Majority and another from an individual. But ACLU Executive Director Chuck Samuelson said today that neither example met the reward criteria and the money will be used to help defeat the amendment in November. Samuelson contends the voter ID requirement could prevent thousands of eligible Minnesotans from voting.

“This amendment for example potentially could cause three quarters of a million people to be denied the right to vote, 215,000 by the fact that they either don’t have a state identification card, or the state identification card that they have has an improper address,” Samuelson said.

Dan McGrath, executive director of the election watchdog group Minnesota Majority, said the Anoka County case he recently highlighted would have been prevented under a voter ID law. He said the ACLU was making a carefull attempt to welch on the bet.

“I think we’ve won this particular point, and they’re not willing to concede that,” McGrath said.

Earlier in the day, McGrath and other voter ID advocates held their own news conference to criticize DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie over recent comments about the amendment. They take issue with Ritchie’s claims that the requirement would end same-day registration and delay election results.

“At best what he’s doing is unfounded, wild speculation,” McGrath said.

Asked for a response to the specific allegations, Ritchie issued this written statement:

“As the lead election official in the state, who partners with local officials in administering our state’s elections, the Office of the Secretary of State has the responsibility for providing public information about how proposed legislation will impact our election system, individual voters, election administrators and taxpayers. Decades of careful bi-partisan election reform has provided Minnesotans with a secure and accurate election system that is the best-in-the-nation. This office will continue to provide information to the public while we work with local election officials to administer what will be the largest election in Minnesota history this November.”

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