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Marriage, Voter ID Amendments Discussed in Plymouth

Five panelists from different groups and backgrounds discussed the constitutional amendments Oct. 1 at Plymouth Creek Center.

There were more questions than time at the Constitutional amendment public forum Oct. 1 at the Plymouth Creek Center.

Five panelists presented background on the proposed marriage amendment and Voter ID amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot in Minnesota.

The panelists included: Kathy Bonnifield who is the Executive Director for Citizens for Election Integrity MinnesotaMinnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey, Leah Solo who is the Political Director of Minnesotans United for All Families, John Swanson of Plymouth who has worked on many boards in the region and John Rouleau who is the Grassroots Field Director for Protect My Vote.

Plymouth Human Rights Commission Chair Jessica K. Trites Rolle moderated the event. The Commission had discussed at its Aug. 2 meeting to have a public forum to discuss the controversial Voter ID and marriage amendments provided there was no city cost or organization time.

According to documents provided at the public forum, the proposed marriage amendment language to be seen on the ballot is: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?" 

According to documents provided at the public forum, the proposed voter identification amendment language to be seen on the ballot is: "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?"

These two amendments sparked lively conversation and debate at the forum in the Black Box theater in Plymouth. 

Questions posed by the public at the forum for the panelists included asking  if there has been bi-partisan support for the amendments in the past; how do homeless people vote; how many people have impersonated someone else to when voting in an election; who will pay for provisional costs of the Voter ID amendment; if (as one panelist said) gay marriage is not good for children and should therefore not be supported then why not also make divorce illegal as that seems to be bad for children to experience; does state law already ban same sex marriage?

Roleau and Lindsey disagreed on there being a case or cases in which someone was convicted of impersonating someone committing voter ID fraud.

"We really don't know [of those who have committed voter ID fraud], we only know about the ones that are caught," said Swanson.

Solo said sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well someone is a parent while Swanson referred to studies he has read that show same sex marriages are not good for children. 

Meanwhile, Rouleau and Bonnifield disagreed on the costs that could be associated with the proposed voter ID amendment. Rouleau says the costs will be quite low while Bonnifield pointed to costs affecting locally including Hennepin County.

What do you think? What questions do you have about the two different constitutional amendments? What would you have asked or said at the Oct. 1 public forum? Share your comments below!

Craig Poorker October 02, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Republicans favor LESS government and MORE freedoms, therefore, I predict that these amendments will be SOUNDLY defeated!
rob_h78 October 02, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Regarding Voter ID - the question I have is - how well trained will Poll Workers be regarding telling which ID's are real and which are fraudulent? Committing Voter Fraud is punishable with up to a $10,000 fine and one year in jail. So, if someone is willing to risk the penalties to simply cast a fraudulent ballot - are they really going to be deterred by having to go an extra step and getting a decent fake id? Will the Poll Workers be well trained to spot the fake ID's? And what happens if they believe someone who has a real ID is presenting a fake ID?
Carole Rydberg October 03, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I recall seeing a letter to the editor from a man who mentioned that his neighbor had moved and, therefore, nothing would stop him from going into the polls and saying that he is that neighbor and voting in his place. Folks seem to forget that most of the precinct judges live in the neighborhood where they serve and one may say, "You are not Jim Jones ... I know Jim Jones ... and you have just committed a felony!" That may be why there have been no known cases of anyone trying to vote by pretending to be another person.
Jessica Trites Rolle October 03, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Thank you, Ms. Briggs, for reporting on our Forum. And thank you to all the Minnesotans who attended - YOU make a difference. Thank you for being engaged, for wanting to learn and discuss, and for wanting to hear additional information before you cast your ballot. Sincerely, Jessica Trites Rolle, Chair, Plymouth Human Rights Committee

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