10/21/2012 4:06:00 PM Publisher's Column
Amendments will hurt Minnesota
Both proposed amendments to the Minnesota Constitution are bad policy choices proposed by people with the intent of preventing other people from exercising rights the proponents would not surrender-the right to choose their life partner and the right to vote.
Those supporting the marriage amendment claim religious justification and freedom of religion, but no one is proposing to force anyone to marry anyone or to perform a marriage for anyone. Religious freedom includes the right to freedom from religion, and the attitude of forcing one's religious values on others is leading ever more people to elect freedom from religion. No one really gains from this amendment and, even if it passes, it will be rescinded within a decade because of changing attitudes. It is a waste of money, time and good will.
Those supporting the voter identification amendment claim there are serious problems of fraudulent voting, but there is no evidence that such a problem exists when people vote in person, so voter identification will not prevent fraud but will most likely deny eligible voters the right to vote. Records show that most fraud occurs with absentee voting, and the law won't prevent that. Meanwhile, people without easy access to required identification will be denied the right to vote.
Additionally, there will be considerable expense to outstate precincts when getting set up to address identification requirements. Many precincts do not have computers and communication equipment necessary to check whether voter identification is valid. They will have to invest heavily in hardware, software and training for equipment and services required for only a few hours every couple years.
It is hard to see where anyone really gains anything by adding these amendments to the state constitution. They are both lose-lose propositions that should be defeated.