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Voter ID illustration
Dan Froomkin notes that when Minnesotans were asked 18 months before the election, 80 percent of them favored a photo-ID for voting. And yet, when they voted Tuesday, they shot down the ballot measure to impose such an ID by 54 percent to 46 percent.

So, what happened? Progressive groups saw that the support was broad but shallow. They fought a campaign focusing on the burdens that the law would put on seniors and others, the costs to taxpayers and problems that would arise because of ambiguous wording. One big problem: The details of the actual law, as opposed to the amendment, would be up to the state legislature to decide. Loose like South Carolina's? Or strict like Pennysylvania's? Would military and student IDs be allowed? Would allowances be made for the elderly? In other words, voters were asked to buy a pig in a poke that could affect them next time they cast ballots.

Minnesotans didn't buy into the proponents' efforts to make it seem that, without voter-ID, a boatload of Willy Hortons would be impersonating real voters on Election Day. Their ads belied their claims that the measure was not racially motivated:

These days, most political appeals to racial anxiety are subtle. The official spokesmen of the national voter ID movement speak smoothly and euphemistically about the "illegal alien" and "urban" voters who are purportedly committing fraud, even as they forcefully deny any racist intent.

But in Minnesota, the pro-voter ID consortium wasn't subtle at all, publishing a cartoon depicting people lined up to vote: the first person in line was an African American in prison stripes; the second was a mariachi player in a sombrero.

(A spokesman for the consortium told Minnesota Public Radio it was "coincidental" that the felon attempting to vote was African American, and that the person in the mariachi costume was "supposed to be an illegal immigrant.")

Uh-huh to that spokesman.

Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota, told Froomkin that the group landed "a punch in the gut to a national movement to suppress the vote." Perhaps. It was certainly an encouraging outcome. But most states that have passed voter-ID laws have not put them up for citizens to decide. And while the courts at the state and federal level  delayed several of these laws for this year's election, they will be in force the next time voters go to the polls unless there is a concerted effort against them between now and then.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:43 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think this is like true (13+ / 0-)

    of support for many conservative initiatives, causes and articles of faith. There is a broad but shallow public support because there is a broad but shallow public understanding. We need to become better at educating the public in regard to progressive (not Democratic) alternatives across the board.

    The place was utterly dark—the oubliette, as I suppose, of their accursed convent.

    by bastrop on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:47:41 AM PST

    •  and I say "not Democratic" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, OldDragon, Larsstephens

      because I think "progressive" is less threatening to people who have been conditioned to hear Democratic and associate it with the eeeevil "librul" label even if that isn't how the feel about D's. Also because I believe we need to reinforce forward motion, and progressive means exactly what it sounds like: progress.

      The place was utterly dark—the oubliette, as I suppose, of their accursed convent.

      by bastrop on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:53:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Garrison Keillor had a bit of fun with his sad (7+ / 0-)

    republican neighbors

  •  The late-in-the-campaign ad featuring (20+ / 0-)

    Gov. Dayton and ex-Gov. Carlson in bipartisan opposition to the amendment was significant.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:59:26 AM PST

  •  We need a constitutional amendment (national) (11+ / 0-)

    that says:

    1) It is the right of every American Citizen over the age of 18 years old on the day of the election to vote.

    2) Felons who have served their sentences, parole and probationary  periods shall have their right to vote restored.

    3) States and federal Districts will provide means, at no cost to the voter, of registration.

    4) Registration in the event of a move of residence, legal name change, or other circumstance shall not be abridged, and shall be done at no cost to the voter.

    5) Discrimination of the right to vote based upon race, creed, religion, marital status is prohibited.

    Some great legal minds here may see some omissions in the above, but this is really what needs to happen.  If you are an American, if you are 18, you have the right to vote, period.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 10:25:27 AM PST

    •  if you're amending the constitution (3+ / 0-)

      require 2 weeks of early voting and no-excuse absentee.

    •  Anyone displaced from the address (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      at which they lived when they registered to vote may register in a new voting district on the day of the election, if they reasonably expect to be sheltered in the district for a period that depends on the reason for their displacement.

      The length of intended residence time in the new voting district can be set by congress and may vary depending on whether the displacement is to natural disaster, an act of war, an act of terrorism, being subject to foreclosure, or eviction, or due to the loss of one's home by fire, flood, or structural collapse.

      E.g. if you building collapses and you have to go stay with your cousin for awhile, you can register to vote on election day, and vote in your cousin's district on election day.  Congress can require an affidavit stating the reason for the temporary loss of residence, the expected duration of residence and certifying that no ballot was cast in any other voting district.

    •  Some kind of mechanism or rule (0+ / 0-)

      that if voting lines get long enough that voting takes more than 1 hour, additional staff and polling equipment must be dispatched immediately.

      Some kind of financial sanctions on any polling station where people have to wait more than 90 minutes to vote, with the severity increasing with the length of the wait.

      Such as $1 / minute / voter, for times over 90 minutes.

      Voter A 100 minutes = $10 fine.
      Voter B 3 hours = $90 per voter.

  •  Our Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, (23+ / 0-)

    did a great job educating the public on how the language could alter electoral procedures that have widespread public support, like same-day registration and absentee voting.

    Minnesotans take voting seriously, usually leading the nation in turnout. Once people saw how the amendment would affect them, their parents, and their children, and not just "those people" the GOP warns about, they killed the ballot measure.

    "Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine." -Paul Wellstone

    by WellstoneDem on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 10:31:47 AM PST

  •  It's getting harder to be a rock-ribbed cynic (5+ / 0-)

    If various American populations continue to vote their self-interest in the face of paid propagandists we are going to have to set up a new social safety net to tend to the nation's die-hard cynics.

    What's that going to cost us? (Ahh, now I feel better.)

  •  I live in MN (15+ / 0-)

    The failure of the amendments and the flip of the state houses from republican to Democratic majorities was primarily, and simply, a repudiation of republican governance. The Minnesota electorate is informed, educated and active. Once again we led the nation in voter turnout. We're proud of that heritage here. We take voting very very seriously.
    However, if you're looking for a 'secret sauce formula' as a model for other areas of the country for combatting these voter suppression efforts by republicans, I'm not so sure you'll find it here.
     While true that support for the concept of voter id was strong 18 months ago (and probably remains rather strong), please note that the actual ballot measure wasn't passed and placed on the ballot until April 4th of 2012. The gay marriage amendment fight began 18 months ago. The voter ID fight was much shorter. (Voter ID History) We didn't reject the idea of a voter ID law. We rejected THIS voter ID law, presented to us by THIS republican legislature. While true that Minnesotans are NOT BLOODY LIKELY to approve any request to 'vote yes now and we'll tell you what you voted for next year'. I believe we rejected it as much for the manner that it was placed before us, as for it's actual content.
     And while the last minute ad featuring Gov. Dayton and former republican (and well respected) Gov. Arne Carlson, imploring voters to 'Send it back so they can get it right. Vote no.' was very well done and timely, and may have swayed some small number of older uncertain voters. I remain strong in my belief we went to the polls intending to fire the Republicans. We rejected what they did, how they did it and why they did it.
    The republicans campaigned on jobs, bi-partisanship and fiscal responsibilty. But they slammed the door on debate and citizen input,  balanced the budget with accounting tricks and cuts to programs helping the less well off and the middle class, all while trying to gut regulations and push thru benefits for corporations and the well off. Then they spent nearly all their time on divisive social issues. It wasn't what they campaigned on. And it wasn't 'Minnesota solutions for Minnesota problems'. Everything was straight from the ALEC playbook.
     So no, our victories weren't because we had a good plan. It was because the republicans DESERVED to be fired. We rejected them AND their works.
    By golly you betcha we did!

    •  I think you are spot on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dennis1958, Larsstephens

      This election was a complete repudiation of the state republican party.  As a person who has worked for voting reform, and as a member of my cities charter commission, I was very nervous about where public sentiment on voter id started.  I think this nailed it that this amendment was swept up in the turn against state republicans.  While I feel that the "this bill needs to be sent back" was effective, without the wave against the republicans I think this would have passed.  

      If you want to truly understand something, try to change it. - Kurt Lewin

      by anim8sit on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:23:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The NO campaigns DID have a great plan (4+ / 0-)

      Both assumed the voters were intelligent and talked up to the voters not down to them.  Both assumed that minds can be changed if they hear a good argument.  I so wish the Democratic Party did more of this instead of relying on focus groups and pollsters to tell them what to market.  Both of these campaigns succeeded because the people running them passionately believed in their cause, attracted supporters with equal passion and sold their argument to the people of this state.  

      And yes the Republicans deserved to lose but if Democrats had listened to conventional wisdom they would have assumed the voters would never defeat these amendments and they never would waged the campaign that defeated them.

      •  Brilliant Campaign Against Marriage Amendment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mchristi314, angry marmot

        The campaign against the MN marriage amendment was the most brilliant and uplifting campaign I have ever had the privilege to observe or be a part of.  The whole basis of the campaign was having real conversations about how the marriage amendment would affect real people in their day-to-day lives.  Before anyone made a phone call or knocked on a door, they were put through an hour long training on how to have these conversations.  The conversational methods into which volunteers were trained were based on extensive research in public opinion.  It was drilled into our heads that we must, at all costs, avoid canned talking points and theoretical abstractions.  And we were trained to truly listen to what people were saying to us and to engage them on a human level.  

        And amazingly, the volunteers (many of whom were your typical opinionated leftie types) embraced these methods and employed them. They did so because they understood how high the stakes were and how important it was to achieve our common goal.

        The whole campaign was a model of how to talk about the things we truly care about in ways that reach beyond the ranks of those who already agree with us.

        •  The TV ad by John Kriesel (0+ / 0-)

          has got to be one of the best politcal ads ever.

          Everyone I talked to said they didn't like the republicans pulling this crap. Bypassing the Governor like that and trying to limit freedom in the our constitution when gay marriage was/is still illegal in MN anyway.
          Our TV ad campaign I thought, started weak. The repubs responded strongly (even though they WERE lying) BUT, I think people were already inclined to tune them out.
          Then the Kriesel ad removed all doubt.
          I watched him give that speech on the house floor, on TV and I was stunned. Integerity isn't something I expect to ever see from a republican legislator. He's not running again. I'm sure he couldn't abide his caucus.
          He's the only republican politician I can think of that I respect.

      •  I'm certainly not suggesting that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, mchristi314

        we shouldn't have fought or that efforts to defeat the amendments were without merit.
        The republican TV ad campaign also helped us. They were insulting to any thinking person.
        I can't prove it, but believe that a huge word of mouth effort, unrelated to any formal campaigning effort played a great role also. Eveybody was talking about the amendments.

    •  plus, the Republicans shut down the state (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, mchristi314

      government for about a month last summer, at a cost of millions of $, reminding us that they are great at "games," but terrible at actual governance.

    •  I still shudder to think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, mchristi314

      What would have happened if Dayton had not won the governor seat in 2010.

      We most likely would have seen the same union busting that was going on in Wisconsin.

  •  Arnie Carlson a former Republican governor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, angry marmot

    Made a powerful anti-voter ID ad with our current Gov Mark dAyton.

    That helped tremendously

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:49:17 PM PST

  •  These people are fucking clueless...hope it stays (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, rosabw

    that way.

    (A spokesman for the consortium told Minnesota Public Radio it was "coincidental" that the felon attempting to vote was African American, and that the person in the mariachi costume was "supposed to be an illegal immigrant.")

    "It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that a man can always solve his problems" - Kurt Vonnegut

    by jazzence on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:50:26 PM PST

  •  Part of it may have been clever wording (4+ / 0-)

    by ID opponents. All of the ads had the phrase "send it back. make them fix it." In other words, not saying the whole idea was wrong, just that this bill wasn't any good.

    That probably helped a lot of the "shallowly supporting" folks change their minds without feeling like they were "wrong."

  •  I always led with the cost argument (4+ / 0-)

    Having to buy laptops for every voting station, paying for network bandwidth, data center rack space, a database of legal voters, people to enter in info about legal voters, software engineers to maintain the database, etc.  That isn't cheap.  Then I would go into the logistics of actually rigging an election and how improbable it actually is.  Seemed to work well.

  •  If you want Photos, (0+ / 0-)

    put one on the voter ID card.  It's trivial to add it.

    •  Not sure I follow... (0+ / 0-)

      What do you mean?

      Do you mean adding photos to the poll book, where voters sign an oath when they come to vote? That idea was floated by various parties as an alternative to the voter ID proposal, putting the onus on the state to provide the photo identification to match the voter, rather than on the voter to obtain one. But it was a non-starter in the Republican lead legislature.

      What voter ID card would one put a photo on? Aren't you just saying that Minnesota should just do what was fairly soundly rejected? Besides, as has been abundantly pointed out, getting a photo ID isn't always trivial.

  •  Just for fun I read the above in this guy's voice. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Four more years!" (Obama Unencumbered - The Sequel)

    by jwinIL14 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:23:18 PM PST

  •  TakeAction Minnesota (4+ / 0-)

    was the force behind moving these numbers. They did an incredible job.

  •  MPR has a great piece on defeat of marriage amend. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    which might have lessons that are more applicable elsewhere:

    Eighteen months to history: How the MN marriage amendment was defeated

    "Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine." -Paul Wellstone

    by WellstoneDem on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:54:11 PM PST

  •  Opportunities (0+ / 0-)

    "So, what happened? Progressive groups saw that the support was broad but shallow."

        This is the key. There ar lots of similar demographic misreadings all across the country. The problem is targeting them and funding them.

  •  High Level of Civic Engagment in MN (4+ / 0-)

    The high level of civic engagement in MN also played a role.  I was amazed at how much informal discussion of the voter restriction amendment there was over the summer-- on social media, in workplaces, etc.

    Up until a couple of months before the election, the folks at Take Action MN (who are among the heroes of the story) were almost alone in prioritizing work on the voter restriction issue.  Almost all the other organized groups seemed resigned to defeat. Behind the scenes, though, thousands of rank and file progressives were talking about this issue with friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  I think those conversations played a key role in making the race competitive.

    And once the polls showed we were competitive, the organizational and financial muscle jumped on board with the brilliant Dayton-Carlson ads that put us over the top.

    At least that's my take on what happened and how we won.

  •  the fascists on the right (0+ / 0-)

    will put these voter suppression laws up for a vote on off pres year elections, they will have a much better chance to pass on off years then pres years unless the the voters are vigilant and go to the polls in greater numbers then they have in past off year elections, if they don't the con zealots will pass these laws in an attempt to prevent the non white electorate from electing candidates that represent the population of america and not the white minority that thinks its their god given right to run america

  •  a few comments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kalidurga, mchristi314, rockhound

    1. The Voter ID wasn't a citizen's initiative. It was placed on the ballot by the (then) GOP-dominated Legislature. They did that because it was just veto bait if they passed it as legislation. However, by simple majority vote the Legislature can put an amendment on the ballot and it doesn't require the Governor's signature. Ergo, he can't veto it either. The amendment tactic was an end run around the legislative process, which the GOP knew they couldn't win.

    2. That voter fraud is a problem worthy of a constitutional amendment doesn't make intuitive sense to most Minnesotans once they think about it. As others have mentioned, turnout is sky high and elections are clean and generally well-administered in Minnesota. No one has any experience to the contrary.

    3. The push for voter ID was very partisan, led by the GOP. They tried to sell it as a 'common sense' measure but everyone knew where the bill came from. Obviously, the MNGOP's dream was that this amendment would pass, they would still control the Legislature and then they would get to write the rules.

    Oh, and it's not too hard to remember the MNGOP was smarting from two recent narrow losses. Sen. Al Franken (312 votes) and Gov. Dayton (~11,000 votes). Just a 0.1% advantage would be huge for them at this point.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:34:16 PM PST

    •  legislative attempt made (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The legislature did pass a bill that would have required voter ID in 2011, but it was vetoed by Governor Dayton. Then they did indeed to the end run tactic to bypass him. So it wasn't just to avoid a veto, it was emphatically to go around the normal process of making law because they didn't get their way. Instead of working with the Governor and Secretary of State to find a different way to address their voiced concerns (usually raised was felons without restored civil rights voting) they pushed the amendment instead. Kind of point out the the concerned voiced were not the real "problem" they were trying to "solve."

  •  Here’s The REAL Story about the MN Amendments (4+ / 0-)

    In 2010 (the year of the tea party), Minnesota voters elected a Republican House and Republican Senate. But they elected a Democratic Governor (Mark Dayton, former U.S.  Senator, from the family that founded Dayton’s Department Store (which was bought out by Macy’s) and Target Stores – I think the B. Dalton bookstore chain was connected to the Dayton family, too. Like Obama, Governor Dayton wanted to raise the income taxes on rich people. Like Boehner, the tea party Republicans in the legislature wanted to lower taxes and screw the poor by denying them food stamps and medical care and compassion.

    The two sides couldn’t agree on a way to balance the budget, so in the summer of 2011, the state government shut down for a month or two (no drivers licenses, no fishing licenses, no highway/road construction). It was a mess. Plus, the Republican party didn’t pay their bills from the Al Franken recount and they were almost evicted from their offices (because Republicans don’t want to pay the bills). And there were some other Republican scandals, including a male aide who was having an affair with the female Speaker of the House (a married Republican), so she resigned and he got fired and he sued the state because he was fired and the Republicans decided to use taxpayer money to pay for lawyers.


    The Minnesota Legislature (controlled by Republicans) knew that if they passed a voter ID law or a DOMA anti-marriage-equality law, it would be vetoed by the Democratic governor and they didn’t have enough votes to override the veto. But…

    The Minnesota Consitution offers a way to do an end run around the Governor.

    Here’s a link from MinnPost: An interactive history of constitutional amendments in Minnesota

    Since the state’s founding in 1858, Minnesotans have voted on 213 amendments to the state constitution, approving 120 of them. Some of the amendments have altered fundamentally the structure of the state government; others have been a bit more frivolous, including a failed 1914 effort to tax dog owners and use the revenue to compensate owners of other animals injured in dog attacks (one of 11 proposed amendments that year).
    Here’s how you amend the constitution in Minnesota. The legislature passes the amendment by a majority vote. It goes to the voters. If a majority of voters who voted approve it, it’s an amendment. Easy peasy. It’s not like passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is hard (2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the states).

    But the Governor can’t veto a state amendment. The Governor has no input. 213 amendments submitted to voters. 120 approved. In 1865 and 1867, the voters turned down the amendment “to authorize Negroes to vote” but in 1868 they approved the amendment. The voters had to vote on amendments relating to things like railroad bonds, expenditures for the state asylum and schools, water mains assessments, and so on.

    So this year (2012) the Republicans thought they could bypass the Governor and let the voters decide about Voter ID and One-Man-One-Woman Marriage. The voters said NO to both. And the voters elected a majority of Democrats in both the House and the Senate. We have a Democratic majority in the MN House and Senate. And we have a Democratic Governor.

    Two years ago, the Republicans controlled the House and Senate and they were saying, “The people have spoken. We represent the people.” Now they’re whining, “Oh no! No no no. There are now no checks and balances. The Democrats might pass a law about Gay Marriage!” Whine whine whine.

    The funny thing is that some pundits have said that the constitutional amendments (passed by a Republican legislature) encouraged a lot of Democrats to vote. The crappy constitutional amendments made people vote for Democrats.

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:40:09 PM PST

    •  So true. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dbug, mchristi314

      If I had been tempted to not vote, just thinking about the voter id law and putting an amendment in the constitution that says some families are better than others because it is one man one woman, would get me to the polls.

      So, this year I was on pins and needles all day waiting patiently to go to vote. I had to go to school, but afterwards it was to the polls and vote. It was really busy this election cycle I got there around 2pm and there was about 20 people voting and 25 in line. I didn't have to wait long as most people were very efficient. But, it was a much higher turnout than I have ever seen. Best voting day ever. I am so happy about the results.

    •  Yep, and a couple of points to add. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thanks, Dbug, you got the story mostly correct.  A couple of small corrections, if I may.  First, the legislature did try to pass voter ID as a law in 2011, but it was vetoed by Governor Dayton. Second, the Minnesota legislature had already passed a DOMA bill in the 1990s, making the anti-marriage amendment particularly mean spirited and unnecessary.

      And, yes, B. Dalton was owned by the Dayton department store corporation until it was sold to Barnes and Noble in the mid-80s.

  •  Funny bit: (0+ / 0-)
    ...(A spokesman for the consortium told Minnesota Public Radio it was "coincidental" that the felon attempting to vote was African American, and that the person in the mariachi costume was "supposed to be an illegal immigrant.")
    Uh-huh to that spokesman.

    Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota....
    Silly real-life joke: "That spokesman"'s name—the name of the Executive Director of "Minnesota Majority," the most prominent backer of the ill-fated Voter ID ballot question—is Dan McGrath. Which happens to be the same name as the guy you've quoted who's one of the most prominent opponents of the measure.

    There's no relation between the two Dan McGraths. (Nor much respect.) But it's kind of odd. And, in the wake of the good news of Voter ID cratering, somewhat easier to laugh at.

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