Way to Go, Minnesotans!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

It’s taken me a few days to just drink in the beauty of what happened here in Minnesota on Election Day 2012.  Lost in all the (legitimate) whoops and hollers of joy that resonated nation-wide, we here in Minnesota did something amazing.

Not only did we turn back a constitutional amendment on defining marriage as between one man and one woman, we romped and stomped on the “voter ID” amendment that was put on our ballot by a Republican legislator who is the Minnesota chairperson of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  That measure is nothing short of a victory of, by and for the people.  Never have I seen such hard work by a group called Our Vote/Our Future.  Minnesotans could never repay the debt of gratitude that is owed them.

This “voter ID” constitutional amendment started out at an 80 percent approval rating when it was first “introduced.”  Down the homestretch, this fabulous organization worked its collective butt off – hundreds of thousands of phone calls, door knocking, organizing and never, ever giving up hope that this horrible amendment could be defeated.

By the weekend before the election, the favorable rating for the “voter ID” amendment had dropped from 80 percent approval to 46 percent approval and it failed when Minnesotans went out and voted it down.

And as great as the work of one organization was, the individual work of former Republican Governor Arne Carlson cannot go unrecognized.  He was relentless in his efforts to educate Minnesotans about what this voter suppression was all about.  He traversed the state and gave unselfishly of his time and energy.

The individual and group efforts reminded me of something Sister Simone Campbell (Nuns on the Bus) said during an interview with us earlier this summer.

“I had a meeting with Paul Ryan, and he said the only reason he talks about individual responsibility and not about community is because the ‘other side’ talks about community,” Sister Simone said.  “But you see, I can talk about individual responsibility. We have an individual responsibility to build up community.  We are in relationship with everyone else. That’s how it works.”

Boy, did we prove that here in Minnesota.

Carrying On Paul and Sheila Wellstone’s Progressive Legacy

Friday, October 5th, 2012

10 years ago this month our nation lost some inspiring fighters for progressive values when Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), his wife Sheila, his daughter Marcia, three campaign staffers, and their two pilots died in a plane crash on a cold, dreary day in Minnesota.  Ardent supporters of working people, labor unions, social justice, and the belief that government can and must be used to improve the lives of everyday people, the loss of Paul and Sheila was truly heart wrenching.  But we also know that Paul and Sheila would have believed that the best way to honor their legacy would be to carry on the fight for the progressive values that they, and we, hold dear.

In honor of Paul, Sheila, and their legacy, below is the post that we wrote on the eight anniversary of Paul’s death, and which still holds true today.  We also urge our readers to share a tribute to the Wellstones at the memorial page that has been set up by Wellstone Action.  And please check out this tribute to Paul and Sheila written by WP contributor Joanne Boyer, who included a profile of Paul in her book Wisdom of Progressive Voices.

In Memory of Paul Wellstone

We here at Winning Progressive are not the type to have political heroes.  While there are many political candidates that we proudly support because they share the views we believe in or because they are significantly better than the alternative, we realize that all politicians are humans and, therefore, flawed.  In addition, politicians work in a system that is flooded with well-funded interests and that requires compromise to get things done.  As such, we realize that we can often only get progress out if we politically force our elected officials to aggressively support our interests.  In short, even our favorite political leaders are bound to let us down on occasion, just as we are sometimes let down by our friends or relatives.  Therefore, even as we strongly support various candidates, we recognize that raising a politician to hero status places unrealistic expectations on that person.

Having said that, there are some political leaders who we hold in especially high esteem.  On such leader is Paul Wellstone, the former Democratic U.S. Senator from Minnesota, who tragically died eight years ago today.  Senator Wellstone was first elected in 1990, and quickly became a leading progressive in the Senate for his willingness to strongly and eloquently stand up for progressive causes even when they were not politically popular.  Senator Wellstone was re-elected in 1996, and died eleven days before election day in 2002 when he was running for a third term.

Senator Wellstone holds a place close to our hearts because of his willingness to proudly stand up for the under-represented and to stay true to his progressive values even at the risk of losing votes, and for the time and dedication he put into building a true grassroots campaign model that continues to this day with trainings run by Wellstone Action, which works to develop future progressive leaders.  At a time when the Senate and House are increasingly dominated by massive amounts of corporate cash and politicians who rely mainly on television advertising for their campaigns, the values and tactics of Senator Wellstone are sorely missed to this day.

We’d like to close with the below video of Senator Wellstone announcing his opposition to the Iraq War in October 2002.  Only a couple weeks before his death, Senator Wellstone gave this speech in the midst of a tough re-election campaign and at a time when the proposal to invade Iraq had strong public support.  Senator Wellstone could have easily gone with the political winds (as many Democrats who should have known better did) and voted for the Iraq War.  Instead, he stood up for his beliefs and cast his vote against the war.

As we work to push our representatives to support our progressive values, we could do a lot worse than urging them to follow the example set by Senator Wellstone.


Progressive Guide to 2012 State Ballot Initiatives – Part 1 of 2

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

While re-electing President Obama should be the top priority for progressives throughout the country this fall, we must also remember that there are many important candidates and issues that will be found further down the ballot on November 6.  One of the most important categories of down-ballot issues is ballot initiatives, which provide voters the opportunity to have a direct say on major policy matters.

This year, states have a plethora of ballot initiatives pending for a vote in November.  Below is Part 1 of our two-part guide to the initiatives of biggest importance to progressives this fall, along with links for how to get involved in supporting the progressive position on each initiative.  Here in Part 1, we will address ballot initiatives regarding marriage equality, reproductive freedom, criminal justice, estate taxes, and death with dignity.  In Part 2, we will highlight initiatives regarding worker’s rights, government, and education.

If you live in a state with one of the ballot initiatives, please get involved by speaking with your family, friends, and colleagues; by volunteering; and by writing a letter to your local newspaper editor.  If you live out-of-state, please contribute what you can to support the efforts of the progressive organizations who are working on these initiatives.

Marriage Equality

2011 was a banner year for advancing the cause of LGBT equality. However, the issue of marriage equality has yet to win majority support any time when it has been placed on the ballot.  We have a great opportunity to change that track record this November in Washington State, Minnesota, Maine, and Maryland.

Washington Referendum 74vote Yes to uphold the state legislature’s approval of marriage equality

* Washington United for Marriage  * Contribute  * Volunteer  * Facebook page  * Washington newspaper links

Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Initiativevote No on constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality

* Minnesotans United for All Families  * Contribute  * Volunteer  * Facebook Page    * Minnesota newspaper links

Maine Same-Sex Marriage Questionvote Yes on 1 to repeal Maine’s ban on marriage equality

* Mainers United for Marriage  * Contribute   * Volunteer  * Facebook Page   *Maine newspaper links

Maryland Question 6 - vote Yes to uphold the state legislature’s approval of marriage equality

* Marylanders for Marriage Equality  * Contribute  * Volunteer  *Facebook Page  * Maryland newspaper links


Estate Tax

Oregon Measure 84 – vote No on this proposal that would eliminate Oregon’s estate tax, which applies to estates valued at greater than $1 million.  As we’ve explained previously, the estate tax is the fairest and most meritocratic kind of tax there is. For more on why Oregon’s estate tax is good for that state, check out this fact sheet from Tax Fairness Oregon. And then send a letter to your local Oregon newspaper urging people to vote No on Measure 84.

Reproductive Freedom

Florida Amendment 6 – vote No on this proposal, which would prevent state courts from reading the Florida Constitution’s right to privacy to provide any rights to choice that are broader than provided under the federal Constitution, and forbids the use of any state funds for abortion except as required by federal law (i.e., in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother).

* Vote No On 6   * Contribute   * Volunteer    * Facebook Page    * Florida Newspapers


Criminal Justice

California Proposition 34 – vote Yes to help California become the 16th state to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole.  As we’ve explained previously, the death penalty is barbaric, ineffective, biased, and costly.  The evidence shows that the death penalty costs taxpayers more than life in prison without parole,  does not deter violent crime, and is marred by significant racial bias and far too frequent ineffective legal representation for those who are charged with capital crimes.

* Yes on 34     * Contribute     * Volunteer    *Facebook Page

California Proposition 36 – vote Yes to reform California’s three-strike law.  Under the current three-strikes law, individuals who have been convicted of two previous “serious or violent” crimes automatically receive a sentence of life in prison if they are convicted of a third crime, even if that third crime is non-violent.  Proposition 36 would reform the law by requiring life in prison only if the third crime is “serious or violent,” thereby saving the state approximately $70 – $100 million per year due to reduced prison populations.

* Committee for Three Strikes Reform   * Contribute   * Volunteer   *Facebook Page

Civil Liberties

Massachusetts Death With Dignity Initiative  - vote Yes on Question 2 to make Massachusetts the third state that allows terminally ill patients to choose to end their lives with dignity.  As we’ve explained previously, our current system that forecloses death with dignity in all but two states is simply unbearable for far too many people facing terminal illness.  One way to help reduce or alleviate these painful situations is to allow a terminally ill individual to get medical assistance in hastening their death, but only through a highly regulated system that includes multiple doctor sign offs, waiting periods, and other precautions to ensure that sick people are not being pressured into assisted suicide.  The Massachusetts ballot initiative would do exactly that, thereby allowing Massachusetts to join Oregon and Washington State in authorizing death with dignity.

* Dignity 2012    * Contribute   * Volunteer   * Facebook Page   * Massachusetts Newspapers

Voting Rights

Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment – vote No on the proposal in Minnesota to require individuals to obtain and present photo identification in order to be able to exercise their right to vote.  Supporters of the voter ID proposal pretend to be responding to rampant voter fraud, but a five-year long investigation by the Department of Justice under President W. Bush found “virtually no evidence of any organized effort” to fraudulently impact federal elections and other analyses have similarly found no evidence of fraud.  What the proposal, which would continue conservative efforts to restrict the voting rights of as many as 758,000 eligible voters, is actually designed to do is to make it as difficult as possible for Democratic-leaning groups to vote.

* Our Vote Our Future  * Contribute   * Volunteer   * Facebook Page  * Minnesota Newspapers

‘Not Everyone’s Life Is Just Like Yours’: Trying To Get A Voter ID

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

One of the constant replies I receive when talking to people about the so-called Voter ID laws now running rampant in our country is, “I just don’t believe people can’t get ID.”  My instant response usually goes, “No, it is not as easy as you think and not all people’s lives are just like yours.”

So often today we get caught in our insular bubbles that keep us from interacting with people whose lives are different from ours.  I mean real interaction as in “walk a mile in my shoes.”

So I decided to check in with my youngest daughter, who spent her first year after college graduation with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps-Northwest working in a day drop-in shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Tacoma, Washington.  Here’s her account of just how hard it is for people to get ID.


In Tacoma, we budgeted for ten checks per month to help people pay to get IDs on a first come, first serve basis. On the first day of every month, people would be lined up outside waiting for us to open the doors, and then once inside lined up waiting at our office window, where usually the first ten people in line were there to get an ID check. We would almost never have any checks left on the second day of the month. We also (when the budget permitted)gave out a bus ticket with each check, so that people would have a way to get to the appropriate office where they needed to go for their ID. People would often call us in the middle of the month after hearing that we helped people get IDs, and we would explain that we give out ten checks per month, and if you wanted a chance at getting one you needed to be here at exactly the time we open on the first day of the month.

Here’s why it’s not realistic to say, “I don’t believe people would have a hard time getting an ID.” I’ll use myself as a hypothetical situation. I’m sitting here (since you asked about this) and thought, what would I do if I needed to get an ID? (Which I actually do, still, since I don’t have state ID after moving to Illinois)

The first thing I did was look up on the Internet where the closest DMV to me is. (We can bracket the fact that I am already sitting at a computer with easy Internet access. In Tacoma, you needed a library card to use the computers at the public library. To get my library card in Illinois, I had to present utility bills as proof of address, since I didn’t have state-issued ID.  So, I possibly need an ID, and an address, to access a computer to look up on the Internet how to get an ID.)

I found out that there really aren’t any DMV offices close to where I live – the closest one is downtown, which is still almost 3 miles away from where I live. Now, I am going to be fine because I happen to work close to where the office is and I have the luxury of being able to step out of the office over the lunch hour and head over there. But for those “not just like” me, they would first need to be able to get the 3 miles to the office. I have a transportation card paid for by my work place (and a bike, and access to people with cars, and enough money to pay for a cab). Others would need to come up with $4.50 in cash to be able to take public transportation to and from the office (or else pay even more for a cab, or have a friend with a car, or own a bike, or, walk. It takes about an hour to walk from where I live to downtown).

But, when I was looking up the nearest location of the DMV, I was also checking to see when it was open. And the hours of the nearest location to me are: 8 am – 5 pm Monday – Friday, closed on Saturday and Sunday. Do you work a full-time job from 8 am – 5 pm? (Or multiple part time jobs? Or a night shift job, so that you’d rather be sleeping from 8-5?) One that might not allow you to travel to the closest office (which could be miles away) over a lunch break? (This is assuming that you have one, and your job isn’t in jeopardy if you are five minutes late to get back.) What exactly are you going to do about this? What if you have kids that you need to get home to, pick up from school, drop off at school, etc.?

I’m also living in a major city of almost 3 million people. This means there are multiple office locations where I could go to, a solid public transportation system, etc. Poverty and homelessness are realities in the suburbs and in rural areas as well, which opens up all sorts of other issues in terms of access, transportation, etc. when you aren’t talking about living in a big city. Minnesota voter ID laws would affect the whole state, not just Minneapolis and St. Paul and Rochester and Duluth.

Let’s also not forget that usually to get an ID, you need some other form of ID. A common situation is as follows: When someone tries to get an ID card, they will be asked to supply secondary proof of identity like a birth certificate. Don’t have your birth certificate? Off you get sent to go get it. What if you only had enough money for one bus ride? How are you going to get to this other office to track down your birth certificate? When are you going to do it, if you’re still working during regular business hours? If you do finally make it to the office where you can get your birth certificate, you can bet you’ll be asked to show some identification, which is the whole reason why you are there in the first place.

(I remember in Tacoma a man came in who had just lost everything in a fire and was in this exact situation – all of his forms of ID had burned in the fire and he couldn’t get one without the other.) When I do go get my Illinois ID I’m going to need to bring with me pretty much everything short of the name of my first born child: I’ll need my passport, social security card, copy of my lease or some utility bills, pay stub, bank statement, etc. What if you don’t have a job? Or a bank account?What if you aren’t paying utility bills because you don’t have your own place to live?

And then you still have pay for the ID. In Tacoma, this could cost anywhere from $15 to $50, depending on what was needed.

The moral of this story is yes: Not everyone is like you. Not everyone has internet access, a car, a bus pass, disposal income for public transportation, flexible job hours, friends or family members to ask for help, an address, or a bank account. But don’t all these people still have the right to vote?


Marching Against Voter Suppression In Minnesota

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

With the words and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. invoked, I joined more than 100 Minnesotans recently to march from the Sabathani Community Center to the Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the city’s south side. The march brought together community organizations, civic leaders and citizens angered by the voter suppression amendment due to be on our November ballot as a constitutional amendment.  Yes, we here in Minnesota are being asked (thanks to our Republican controlled legislature) to amend our constitution with something that one Minnesota Supreme Court judge has already hinted may be unconstitutional.

Through the streets of Minneapolis we marched after being energized by speakers who reminded us that it was our turn to follow Dr. King’s example of always speaking truth to power.  And the truth of the Minnesota ballot initiative this November, if passed, will be that it will forever change how Minnesotans cast their vote and it could keep up to 500,000 eligible Minnesotans away from the polls.  We here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes led the nation again in 2008 in voter turnout thanks in part to our civic pride and a wonderful thing called same day voter registration, which allowed more than 540,000 individuals to cast ballots on election day in 2008.

Our amendment (also an unfunded mandate with the cost of implementation due to fall to property tax payers) is falsely labeled as “voter photo ID.” In reality, it would eliminate same day registration and completely jeopardizes absentee voting.  In its place would come provisional balloting — something Minnesota has never had.

As one speaker reminded the crowd before we took to the streets, “Jim Crow has come to Minnesota.  By putting this on the ballot in November, they have shown us where their vulnerability is.  If we vote, they lose. They know that if they keep us away from the polls – even by just a small percentage, that they control the power.”

A Native American speaker from Wellstone Action (an organization that promotes the legacy of former Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone) proudly showed her tribal nation ID, which she said allows her to board a plane, but which would not allow her to cast a vote if the amendment passes.

Minnesota’s voter suppression law takes on a slightly different flavor from others that hit after the 2010 elections.  Although Republicans gained control of our state legislature by the smallest of margins, Democrat Mark Dayton was elected governor.  His veto of any proposed law, forced the Republicans to bypass Dayton and put the initiative on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment.  The Republican controlled legislature also pushed through a constitutional amendment on gay marriage for this November, even though the state already has a law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.  There was no stopping our legislature when it came time to implementing ALEC “cut and paste” legislation here in Minnesota.

And so we marched.  Many in the crowd asking, “haven’t we already done this?” in reference to the 1960s civil rights marches that finally granted full voting rights to African Americans.  One female marcher even donned a costume from turn-of-the-20th-century America in honor of the suffragette movement, carrying a sign that asked, “Is this 1912?”

Our Supreme Court is due to make a final ruling on this amendment soon.  The amendment is before the Court because of the “bait and switch” nature of the language as it currently stands.

If the Supreme Court lets stand the ballot initiative as currently written, Minnesotans will not know the deep, hidden nature of what the changes will entail.  The initiative currently states:

“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.”

Nowhere does it state what type of government ID must be presented.  Nowhere does it state that provisional ballots  — an entire new concept to Minnesota – will be issued to voters who can’t produce valid ID.  Nowhere does it state that absentee ballots –used by more than 240,000 Minnesotans in 2008, are completely in jeopardy.

And so we marched…and so we talked to others…and so we will continue to talk to our neighbors and fellow citizens.  Our democracy is under attack here in Minnesota, just as it is in other state throughout the land facing voter suppression laws.

From the words of Dr. King to a park named in his honor, we marched to remind people in Minnesota and everywhere:  The real power belongs to ‘We The People.’ It’s up to us to once again do the work to reclaim it from those who seek to take it from us.

The Lie of Voter Fraud Hits Minnesota

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

Other than the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling, there are few issues that tear at the basic fabric of democracy as much as the current assault by Republican-controlled state houses to enact voter photo ID laws. These laws, which have been written by the national American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and then “cut and pasted” into different state legislation are aimed solely at restricting and suppressing eligible citizens from casting their vote.

Recent news about estimates of more than 758,000 eligible voters in Pennsylvania being unable to cast a ballot this November has shed a spotlight on what this law is all about – restricting access to the polls for eligible voters who tend to vote Democratic.

Does anyone remember what caused former President George W. Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to finally resign? It was for the scandal surrounding the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for their refusal to prosecute non-existent voter fraud. The Republican Party tried desperately to make “voter fraud” an issue from 2005-2010 and it simply could not be found – anywhere. Not in any state in the nation.

Then in 2010 the Republicans took control of multiple state houses and POOF, like magic, back came voter fraud. The Republicans couldn’t make it happen through the courts and the U.S. attorneys, so they found a much easier way. Get Republican controlled legislatures to pass ALEC legislation. Since 2010, 10 Republican-controlled states passed voter ID laws (Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin).

The reality is voter fraud is a rarity in the United States, and voter impersonation at the polls, the only incident that could be prevented by these restrictive voter ID laws, is virtually nonexistent. Most instances of improper voting involve registration and eligibility issues, none of which would be prevented by a state photo ID restriction. One academic study found photo ID restrictions would prevent less than one fraudulent vote for every 1,000 legitimate voters who would be excluded from voting by the requirement.

Simply put: If you buy into the need for voter photo ID, you simply have fallen for the lie of voter fraud.

This ugly assault on democracy has made its way to Minnesota, where I reside, in a slightly different format. Although the 2010 elections brought a Republican controlled state senate and house to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton survived a recount vote – without either side alleging voter fraud – to take the governorship.

Running on that all too familiar jobs, jobs, jobs agenda, the Republicans turned immediately to trying to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011. Dayton vetoed it. After a shut down of the state government in July 2011, what was the first plan of action as the Republican legislature convened in January 2012? Voter photo ID again. This time though, they chose to bypass the governor’s veto and put it on the ballot in November as an amendment to the state constitution.

Minnesota – who continually leads the nation in voter turnout – now faces the possibility of limiting voter rights and forcing estimates of more than 500,000 eligible voters from casting their vote if this initiative is allowed to stand as written.

The law currently is in the hands of the Minnesota Supreme Court based on court challenges that contend the language does not represent the full impact of the constitutional amendment.

The current language as passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature states:

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?

The Minnesota League of Women Voters does a magnificent job explaining what will really change and what’s not mentioned in the amendment language. Click here to see the document.

The BRADBlog provided one of the most in-depth analyses of how the amendment changes forever Minnesota’s rich tradition of voter turnout. Click here for more information.

To summarize:

1) Valid vs. ‘government-issued’ ID: The “valid” ID descriptor is misleading because it fails to inform voters that the proposed constitutional amendment would limit “valid” ID to “government-issued” ID, making Minnesota only the fourth state to limit acceptable polling place photo ID to “government-issued” photo ID. This could potentially eliminate student IDs, employee IDs, and tribal IDs.

2.) All voters: This would incorporate absentee ballots, forcing those who vote via mail, including many in rural areas, to be in jeopardy of casting their vote.

3.) Creation of provisional ballots: Minnesota same day registration and “vouching” for voters would forever be changed. No where does the language inform voters that by passing this amendment, the state’s proud legacy of same day registration would be abolished and we would be creating a new system of voting called provisional ballots.

4.) The cost: Nowhere are voters informed of the cost of the implementation of the new system. State officials estimated the overall first-year costs to be $32.9 million statewide, the bulk of that, $29 million, going toward new poll books that would be available at polling places, according to a Humphrey Institute study. About 85 percent of the cost would be paid by local governments. The report suggests there may be hidden costs, too. It notes that Indiana expected to spend about $700,000 for additional ID cards when it enacted its law but ended up spending $10 million.

The most noteworthy opposition to this voting rights limitation amendment came from former Republican Governor Arne Carlson and former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale. The two elder statesmen from opposing political parties came together for a joint new conference to articulate their concerns over its potential effect on Minnesota’s election system. The two penned an editorial in the state’s largest newspaper (The Star Tribune) in which they noted:

The overall goal of this amendment is largely to eliminate election-day registration, directly affecting more than 500,000 Minnesota voters. The new law will require a government-issued photo ID listing a voter’s home address. This can be challenging particularly for students, the elderly, the military, absentee voters or anyone who moves.

They also called out the obvious partisan nature of the bill and identified another major rub on this amendment. Legislators are elected to legislate – to do the work of bi-partisan bridge building to create laws. In their editorial, Carlson and Mondale said:

We in Minnesota lead the nation in voter turnout, and our elections are the most honest. We have recently gone through two very close elections (U.S. Senator Al Franken and Governor Mark Dayton) and recounts without a single case of fraud.

There is a reason why — our insistence that election laws be designed in a bipartisan fashion. That is key. No party should have an election advantage.

Unfortunately, the voter ID constitutional amendment was passed by the Legislature on a strict party-line vote. Not one Democrat in either the House or the Senate voted for it. Not one.

Further, this proposed amendment does not have its origins in Minnesota, nor does it come about as a result of legislative studies of recent elections. It is a product of an organization known as ALEC, which is the creation of the Koch brothers, who amassed their fortunes in oil and who live in Florida. The goal of ALEC is to influence legislators across the nation.

Our preference is for a return to a legislative process that studies a problem first and then creates a sensible and affordable bipartisan solution. This amendment falls short on all counts.

Anyone who supports these current ALEC-funded voter suppression bills has forgotten our strong history of expanding the vote for everyone. We dishonor the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the Suffragette Movement of nearly 100 years ago by even considering bills or state constitutional amendments to limit eligible voters from casting their ballots. There should be something deep within everyone’s patriotic soul that is repulsed at partisan activities that seek to keep eligible voters from the polls.

In Minnesota, our strong hope remains that the Supreme Court will toss out the language as insufficient for truly representing what the amendment would do. If they do, it will be up to the 2013 legislature to revisit the issue. Whether Democratic or Republican controlled, or split, voter photo ID laws should never see the light of day in a country calling itself a democracy.