Minnesotans are civic-minded people. Just look at their voting record. According to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Minnesota is the top voting state in the nation. More than 78 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot last election. Ritchie expects that number to grow this November with a record number of people voting. It’s something Minnesotans can be proud of – yes, but Ritchie says he wants his state to be made up of educated voters.
In a town hall style meeting, Ritchie addressed students, faculty and the public at the Rasmussen College Eagan campus on October 16, 2012. The meeting was moderated by Brooks Doherty, Rasmussen College Dean of General Education. Ritchie started with an overview of the responsibilities of the Secretary of State’s Office and how to vote. Ritchie then moved on to the importance of understanding the two proposed constitutional amendments on this November’s ballot.
Did you know the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office is not allowed to print the actual language of the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot? If either of the amendments passes, what you see on the ballot November 6th is not the text that will be added to Minnesota’s constitution. That’s why Ritchie says it’s so important for every voter to read the full proposed amendments before they head to the polls. The state used to pay to have the language printed in newspapers around the state, but Ritchie says that got too expensive. Now, he suggests going to the Secretary of State’s Website to read the full amendments.
Let’s take the proposed voter ID amendment or amendment two, for example. On the ballot, Minnesotans will see:
“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 full proposed amendment reads:
“All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law. All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.”
Some of you may be thinking about skipping the two proposed constitutional amendments. Not voting or leaving that part of the ballot blank actually counts as a vote against the amendment. That’s because for a constitutional amendment to be adopted, it must receive a majority of the total number of ballots cast, not just the vote on the amendment.
Ritchie did not address proposed amendment one, which if passed, would recognize marriage solely between one man and one woman. You can read the full amendment here. He did take a number of questions from the audience regarding the voter ID amendment and the voting process. Some of those questions included:
What is the current process for Soldiers stationed abroad who want to vote? Visit the Military and Overseas Voter Service webpage for details.
Have there been instances of voter fraud in Minnesota? Ritchie says we have one of the best election processes in the country.
Why do you think Minnesota consistently ranks first in general election voter turnout? Ritchie says Minnesotans are civic-minded people who also rank number one in volunteerism and charity. He says the state also has policies in place that make it possible for people to vote. For example, a website designated to our service members overseas.
On the Secretary of State’s Website you will find additional information about the voter ID amendment, such as how it will impact elections, specifically voting by mail. There you can also read about your rights as a voter, how to register and where to find your polling place.
Remember to vote on November 6th!