|Photo by the author|
And there was a lot of new information to share.
First, the Voter ID amendment was amended. Here are some of the important changes:
1) An effective date of July 30, 2013: Representatives of the Association of Minnesota Counties testified that this deadline would be nearly impossible to meet, since it would be up to the 2013 Legislature to clarify the amendment through legislation.
2) The insertion of the phrase "as much as is practicable": Bill author Senator Newman testified this was intended to provide flexibility, but as a practical matter it will be up to the courts to decide what's "practicable."
The end of these two items highlight the biggest procedural problem with this amendment. Not only is it bad policy, if it passes it will force the legislature to pass a statute that implements the amendment, and then there would undoubtedly be a court battle about that. In fact, Newman's primary response to "red herring" concerns like "what would be acceptable forms of ID?" and "how much would it cost?" was "it depends on what the next Legislature does." And then there's a real conundrum - what happens if the amendment passes, the Legislature passes a Voter ID statute and Governor Dayton vetoes it? The courts would then have to step in to provide guidance to local election officials trapped between the Minnesota Constitution and the existing election statutes. It would be a mess of the highest order.
This is why legislating by amendment is a bad idea. In fact, it's not even legislating by amendment, it is amending to force legislation. This is not only an end run around the Governor, it ensures that people will be voting to support or oppose legislation that hasn't even been written yet. The Voter ID amendment is truly a pig in a poke.
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