Media Contact

Charles Samuelson, Executive Director for the ACLU-MN: (651) 645-4097 x121;

May 30, 2012

ACLU files petition in State Supreme Court to challenge misleading voting amendment ballot proposal

St. Paul, Minn. – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a petition seeking to strike a constitutional voting amendment from November's ballot because it is misleading and fails to inform voters of changes in election laws that could compromise people's fundamental right to vote.

"This ballot proposal is incredibly troubling because it asks voters to put an amendment in the constitution in a manner that is misleading, confusing and unclear," said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. "Voting is one of the most important rights we have, and this amendment aims to take away that right from the most vulnerable, under the guise of a seemingly innocuous photo ID requirement."

"The Minnesota State Legislature isn't telling voters the truth about its proposed photo ID requirement for voting, and they have a right to know," said Jon Sherman, staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. "Not only is this part of a wave of laws that have already had a severe impact on the right to vote nationwide, but this particular amendment effectively spells the end of Election Day registration, which significantly increases turnout."

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, the Minnesota legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would change 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 is unreasonable and misleading because it erroneously describes some of the changes, while failing to even mention other fundamental changes:

  • It only mentions "valid ID," but the amendment requires a "government-issued ID," which means voters could be misled into thinking some IDs are valid.
  • It fails to disclose that there will be a verification process that could essentially end Election Day registration, and that there will be a new and costly provisional ballot system.
  • It incorrectly describes who has to present an ID.

"The League of Women Voters Minnesota joined this petition because a fundamental part of our mission is to educate voters," said Stacy Doepner-Hove, President of the League of Women Voters. "When you have a ballot question that is unclear on what it means or how it will be enacted, it makes it impossible for any voter to fully understand the consequences."

Attorneys in the case: William Pentelovitch, Richard Wilson, Justin Perl, Wayne Moskowitz, Alain Baudry and Catherine Ahlin-Halverson of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP and Jon Sherman and Laughlin McDonald of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU of Minnesota.