Voting amendment threatens to mislead and compromis the people's fundamental right to vote

Case Description

The ACLU of Minnesota filed a petition seeking to strike a constitutional voting amendment from the November 2012 ballot because it was misleading and failed to inform voters of changes in election laws that could compromise the people's fundamental right to vote.

The petition was filed in the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Jewish Community Action, and Common Cause Minnesota, as well as five individual plaintiffs: Gabriel Herbers, Shannon Doty, Gretchen Nickence, John Harper Ritten, and Kathryn Ibur.

In April 2012, the Minnesota Legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would have changed the state's election laws in several ways, including requiring individuals to present certain government-issued photo ID before receiving an in-person ballot. The ballot question was unreasonable and misleading because it erroneously described some of the intended changes, while failing to mention the following fundamental issues:

  • It only mentioned the term "valid ID" when the amendment would have required a "government-issued ID," which meant voters could have been misled into thinking some other types of ID's would be valid.
  • It failed to disclose that there would be a verification process that could essentially end Election Day registration and that the amendment would require a new and costly provisional ballot system.
  • It incorrectly described who would have been required to present ID before being able to vote.

Arguments were heard before the Minnesota Supreme Court on July 17, 2012. The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed the case.


William Pentelovitch, Richard Wilson, Justin Perl, Wayne Moskowitz, Alain Baudry and Catherine Ahlin-Halverson from Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand, LLP; Jon Sherman and Laughlin McDonald from the ACLU Voting Rights Project; Teresa Nelson, Legal Director


Minnesota Supreme Court