Senator Considers Another Amendment Lawsuit


Another lawsuit could arise over a proposed constitutional amendment.

Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said at mid-day that he will consider taking Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to court, claiming the Democrat is making false comments about a proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to show photographic identification. Parry also thinks Ritchie could be campaigning against the amendment at state expense.

The senator, chairman of the Senate state government committee, said he will reach out to Ritchie and Attorney General Lori Swanson, both no-shows in his committee meeting this morning. Parry called the meeting to discuss Ritchie rewriting the titles to two Republican-sponsored amendment proposals that voters will decide in the fall election.

Republicans on Parry’s committee said Ritchie is telling Minnesotans that requiring a photo ID to vote would end the state’s traditional election day registration practice.

In an interview, Rep. Marry Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said there is nothing in the amendment proposal that would change same-day registration. Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state, said that a photo ID is not required to register.

Parry and other Republicans question other Ritchie statements, too.

“To insert speculation without knowledge and backing” appears to show Ritchie is campaigning against the amendment, Parry said. And besides violating campaign laws requiring statements to be true, the senator said that Ritchie also could be breaking campaign finance laws by doing what the Republican considered campaigning with state funds.

Ritchie has refused to talk about the issue since it went to the courts and he sent his attorney to testify in Parry’s committee.

The Minnesota Supreme Court already is considering three cases related to two proposed constitutional amendments:

— Whether Ritchie’s rewrite of the legislatively passed title to the photo ID amendment is legal.

— Whether Ritchie’s new title for a proposed amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman is legal.

— Whether the wording of the photo ID question to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot accurately reflects the actual proposed amendment.

Parry said he will decide within days what further actions he might take.

Democrats on Parry’s committee said Ritchie was just telling voters what to expect if the photo ID amendment passes. They said he was doing nothing wrong.

“It is his duty to tell the people of Minnesota what he thinks this will do,” Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, said. “I think this is kind of a false accusation.”