Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The mythical impact of Photo ID on military voters Part 3

As shown in Part 1 of this series, even a strict interpretation of the Voter ID amendment will not keep any Minnesota military voter from casting a ballot.  In part 2, I brought to light the outrage that Minnesota VFW members expressed over Secretary Ritchie's bogus claims that the the Voter ID amendment would prevent military voters from voting.  Part 3 is all about the details and loose ends.

First, my pertinant background; I've been in the MN National Guard for 20 years, since 9/11 over 5 years on active duty.  I have voted absentee overseas military twice, once in 2004 for the primary and once in 2006 for the general.  But in truth I'm pretty sure my vote in 2006 was never counted since I didn't get the ballot until 6 days before the election, and the mail back to the States usually took 7-10 days.

Second, the claim that SecState Ritchie is making that addresses would be required on the Photo ID for voting is purely BS.  This claim pops up time and again in liberal propaganda, but to hear it from the top voting official in Minnesota is scandalous.  Let me explain; the Voter ID amendment requires that voters show a 'government issued photo ID' to vote.  It leaves the specifics of that Photo ID to be determined by the legislature, likely with input from the Secretary of State's office.  So by saying that amendment will REQUIRE the voter's current address on the Photo ID, Secretary Ritchie is predicting the future and making a legal claim based on his prediction.  Is SecState Ritchie trying to tell Minnesota that as the chief voting official HE will make addresses mandatory on Photo ID?

The 'addresses required' argument is a lie no matter what happens with the election; if the GOP holds the legislature, they have no reason to make it harder for military voters to cast a ballot.  The military has voted conservative over 70% in the last 3 elections, so making it harder for military voters to vote would be counter productive.  But if the DFL takes back the legislature, there is no reason they couldn't write the law to accommodate those voting overseas.  Substantially equivalent means whatever the law says it does.The letter from a VFW member says it all-“While it may be the intention of the Secretary to limit our military from voting, the amendment has nothing to do with our servicemen and women.”  -(Underlining in the original)  Unless you believe the DFL wants to make it harder for military voters to vote...

Third, Secretary Ritchie is clearly guilty of using state resources to push a purely partisan message.  It's now been confirmed that just like the Gold Star Mothers, Sec Ritchie used official letterhead to transmit his commentary full of bogus claims to the Minnesota Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  So the taxpayers of Minnesota have been paying for a supposedly non-partisan elected official to aggressively push a purely partisan message, and to make false and misleading claims while on duty.  We are all used to politicians running for office making spurious claims, but to hear a guy who is not up for election and supposed to be above the fray bringing gutter politics and outright lies into the debate is embarrassing.  Imagine for a moment the Governor using official letterhead to endorse a DFL political candidate; we would all know right away that it was wrong.

Fourth, the utter irony of this all; I knew about Secretary Ritchie's bogus claims over a month ago, as soon as I received my copy of the Gopher Oversea'r.  But because I was on active duty with the US military, I was prohibited from speaking out about partisan politics.  I held this story until I was off active duty and free from military regulations.  Secretary Ritchie is also prohibited from speaking out about partisan politics while on the taxpayer dime.  But the facts say he has done otherwise-not only using his time but also state resources to try to defeat a ballot initiative. 

Secretary Ritchie's violation of MN law seems quite clear when the evidence is gathered together.  But I don't get to determine if he has broken the law.  Only the legislature can bring punitive action against the Secretary, and unfortunately it's election season, so the legislature is busy trying to get re-elected.  Perhaps that is what the secretary is counting on-

...that good men will do nothing.

Good thing the voters have a chance to make Photo ID a part of the MN Constitution, so that even the Secretary of State will not be able to ignore the will of the voters.


Anonymous said...

If the intent of the Voter ID amendment is to insure the integrety of the voting process, the ID must have an address. The address is integral to insurng that the voter is voting in the right precinct. Currently a person registering to vote who has a photo ID without a current address must present a utility bill with the name and address of the person registering or have a resident in the precinct vouch for the person's residence in the precinct.

Anonymous said...

Statutes, not the amendment deal with establishing a voter's residence in the precinct. Identification will prove identity only. Residence will still be demonstrated by the statutory processes (ie: utility bill, student housing lists, etc).

Todd Pierce said...

In the interest of illuminating some of the errors in this blog posting, I will address some of the claims made here. I was responsible for all aspects of our work with military and overseas voters at the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State from 2004 until 2008. Our Office, under both Secretaries Kiffmeyer and Ritchie, worked with the Federal Voting Assistance Program to address barriers to UOCAVA voters. One of the many suggestions made by the Pentagon was to eliminate the vouching process of securing a witness to an absentee ballot – something that was a huge barrier to voting. It is this aspect of the proposed new constitutional amendment on elections that will have an immediate and very negative impact on voters who are overseas.
In my job at the Secretary of State’s office I was in a position to hear complaints from Minnesota military members from around the world during two national elections. Not all complaints came from soldiers and sailors overseas. One memorable complaint came from Minnesota members of the Marines stationed at a Marine Base in CA whose voting officers just weren't that into it, and their ballots never got sent back to MN. And this blogger thinks voting officers, who are of all ranks and experienceand maturity, will disregard the UCMJ and risk making a false official statement by affirming a personal residence when the servicemember may not have been at that residence for years, if ever?
The blogger knows his military forms but not all of them are readily available nor relevant to establish current residence for voting purposes. IN my recent deployments, there was no record showing my residential address in MN; only a pay voucher showing that I was a MN resident for tax purposes. Now it is true, if you're in the National Guard and deployed with your hometown MN unit, you can probably find a fellow MN resident to vouch for you, if that is required. But what about active duty servicemembers in units where there may not be any fellow Minnesotans? What about Minnesota military retirees living overseas? And retirees who are bedridden but yet have active minds who wish to vote but can't jump through the hoops these regulations will impose or pay the costs to travel to a possible remote county seat to get a duplicate birth certificate? And what about that Minnesota soldier who is deployed with an Army Reserve unit from another state, as I was in the First Gulf War? There wasn't a fellow Minnesotan to be found in that Louisiana unit!
In other words, the blogger is trying to impose his narrow experience upon all the other servicemembers and retirees who may not be similarly situated, seemingly for the sole purpose of a partisan political attack. One final point, where is the evidence of illegal voting? We have been through a number of statewide election recounts in Minnesota and all of the lawyers involved in this have repeatedly and emphatically stated that they looked and looked but could not find any fraud. And this is not a big surprise. Would an illegal immigrant risk being charged with a felony and deported? Would a felon not yet done with his or her sentence risk being returned to prison for committing another felony by illegal voting?
There is too much erroneous information on this blog to address it all but I suggest that people not have so much wool in their heads that it will be child's play to pull it over their eyes and be skeptical toward these sorts of claims.

Dave Thul said...

Mr Pierce-
thank you for your comment, I intend to address them fully in another post, as you raise some very good points that I would like to address.

But for now I will simply point out one huge assumption that you are making that undermines most of what you wrote; there is no requirement in the ballot language or the language that would be added to the MN Constitution that would require an address on the Photo ID. Such a requirement does not exist.

Todd Pierce said...

Per Mr.Thul's last remark (this is in parts 1 and 2, since I don't know if anyone can say yet which chapters of election laws these new requirement will be codified in):

An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, article VII, section 1, will read:
Section 1. (a) Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct. The place of voting by one otherwise qualified who has changed his residence within 30 days preceding the election shall be prescribed by law. . . .
(b) 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.
(c) 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.
That is the proposed amendment, Sections (b) and (c). They modify section (a) to now require a picture ID before receiving a ballot to vote in the precinct where one resides.
A mere photo ID does not show which is the only precinct where one is eligible to vote. It will not be sufficient to just show a picture ID no matter what level of government provides it. So CAC cards will not meet the requirement. To implement this requirement, laws will then need to be passed by the legislature, not the Secretary of State, and then rules written to implement the laws. Those laws will have to define what information will need to be on the photo ID to effect the intent of the language of the amendment. One does not need to be a legislator or attorney to understand that. These new statutes will be added to the existing statutes and regulations, all listed in part 2.

More laws and Rules will need to be passed by the legislature to implement the amendment, if it passes. These will be codified within one or more of the chapters shown in part 2 of this post, all pased by the legislature. So it is either deliberate deception or ignorance to argue that there are no requirement in the amendment that will obstruct voting by people without the requisite new ID. The amendment is incomplete without the statutes and rules which will be needed to implement the amendment.
Then, in another body of law, spending, laws will need to be passed to effect this additional requirement: "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."
For a lot of people, they will just get a free ID, funded by the state, i.e., paid for with tax dollars. But for those individuals overseas, many out of reach of an embassy or other U.S. government office, it will be virtually impossible to meet the requirement.

Todd Pierce said...

As stated in part 1 of this post, the new statutes and rules will then be codified in various sections of the following chapters, as well as those statutes which pertain to the spending and taxing powers provided for in the Constitution, and codified as Minnesota Statutes. Of course, it is up to the voters, as many of them that can vote hopefully, who will decide if this is a cost worth paying for what all the evidence shows to be a non-existent problem.

Chap. 2
All statutes (with annotations) in one pdf: 2012 Minnesota Election Statutes (.pdf)
All statutes (with annotations) in Word format: 2012 Minnesota Election Statutes (.doc)
• Chapter 203B - ABSENTEE VOTING
All rules (with annotations) in one pdf: 2012 Minnesota Election Rules
• Chapter 8205 - PETITIONS
• Chapter 8210 - ABSENTEE BALLOTS
• Chapter 8235 - RECOUNTS
• Chapter 8255 - REDISTRICTING