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Paper Trail: Republican ties to Voter ID lawsuit

Jake Grovum//February 29, 2012//

Paper Trail: Republican ties to Voter ID lawsuit

Jake Grovum//February 29, 2012//

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A lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court by supporters of Voter ID presents little new in the way of new arguments in support of the measure plaintiffs say will restore integrity to the state’s elections system.

At the heart of it, the suit argues that because of the state’s lax voter verification laws, it’s too easy for people to vote who shouldn’t. That, the argument goes, dilutes the voter pool and diminishes the votes — and constitutional rights — of those who are eligible.

The Minnesota Voter’s Alliance and Minnesota Freedom Council, with a handful of others, brought the lawsuit — find the complaint here. It names Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Ramsey County elections official Joe Mansky as defendants, along with other local elections officials.

But what’s notable about the suit is that some of the plaintiffs have ties to Republicans in the Legislature — indeed, GOP Rep. Sondra Erickson is herself a plaintiff on the suit. Also involved in the suit is conservative attorney Erick Kaardal, who represented a group of Republican legislators during 2011’s government shutdown. They argued that court-approved spending without legislative approval was unconstitutional during the shutdown.

The litigation comes at a time where there’s increasing optimism a compromise on a Voter ID constitutional amendment may be reached this session. That might head off the need for such a measure and instead lead to a legislative solution such as electronic poll books that Ritchie has recently been supporting.

It’s also worth noting that former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, a current GOP representative in the House who’s now seeking a Senate seat this fall, is listed as serving on the Minnesota Voter’s Alliance advisory board. She has been a staunch advocate of Voter ID and has recently downplayed talk of a legislative compromise heading off a Voter ID constitutional amendment.

“We see it as complementary, maybe, but not a substitute,” ,” she told MPR recently. “So, we’re proceeding on the photo ID constitutional amendment as we were before.”

Opponents of Voter ID have kept up the pressure as well, despite talk of a compromise. TakeAction Minnesota planned a news conference Wednesday with members of the military in opposition to the move. That opposition, along with the GOP ties to the lawsuit filed this week, could cast doubt on whether any compromise may be reached this session on Voter ID.

The Senate’s version of the Voter ID constitutional amendment is due in Finance Committee Thursday morning.

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