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Photo ID supporters to sue over Ritchie title change

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ST. PAUL -- Secretary of State Mark Ritchie faces a second lawsuit over his rewriting a proposed constitutional amendment title.

Paperwork to be filed Thursday by Republican legislators and others supporting an amendment requiring Minnesotans to show photographic identification before voting asks that the title legislators approved be restored, replacing one Ritchie penned. Voters will be asked to decide the issue in the Nov. 6 election, unless the courts take it off the ballot.

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Earlier this month, Democrat Ritchie announced that state law required him to write titles to constitutional amendment proposals.

For the photo ID issue, Ritchie said ballots would list "Changes to in-person and absentee voting and voter registration; provisional ballots" as the title. The Republican-controlled Legislature wrote the title as: "Photo identification required for voting."

Ritchie already is being sued for rewriting the title of a second amendment facing voters, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Attorney General Lori Swanson, also a Democrat, is being sued on both the photo ID and marriage issues because she approved the title change.

In both cases, amendment supporters say Ritchie changed the titles in an attempt to influence voters to oppose them.

"The secretary of state has no legal authority to meddle in the process of presenting a constitutional amendment to the voters," Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said. "The Minnesota Constitution provides the Legislature the exclusive authority to propose constitutional amendments to the people."

"The secretary's title is about as clear as mud..." Newman said. "This is raw partisan politics at its worst. Minnesota deserves better."

Newman and Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said earlier this week that they were waiting for the Supreme Court to hear another case before filing the suit.

The other case asked the high court to take the photo ID issue off the ballot because the question in front of voters was misleading. It touched on the title controversy, but that was not the case's main thrust.

Ritchie, the state's top elections officer, said Aug. 27 is the latest the high court can make decisions in order for ballots to be printed for the November election.

Besides Kiffmeyer and Newman the newest suit was filed by GOP Sens. Warren Limmer, Julianne Ortman, Mike Parry, Sean Nienow, David Brown, David Senjem, Bill Ingebrigtsen, Paul Gazelka, Roger Chamberlain, Ray Vandeveer and Claire Robling; Jeff Davis; Dan McGrath; Minnesota Majority; and ProtectMyVote.com.

The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for July 31 on the marriage amendment title case.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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