Voter ID and Marriage Amendments Split Minnesotans

By KBJR News 1

Voter ID and Marriage Amendments Split Minnesotans

October 31, 2012 Updated Oct 31, 2012 at 9:49 AM CST

St. Paul, MN (Northland's NewsCenteR) -- As Minnesotans head to the polls next week to decide whether to require citizens to produce photo identification to vote, nearby North Dakota has erected very few hurdles to casting a ballot.

In fact, its deputy secretary of state, Jim Silrum, says North Dakota voters don't even have to register.

"As long as you are a U.S. citizen, 18 or older and have lived in the precinct for the 30 days immediately preceding the election, you're a qualified elector - unless a court has taken away your right to vote by being convicted of a felony or something like that."

Voters in North Dakota are asked for some form of ID bearing their address and birth date, but a photo is not needed, and even those without any identification are still allowed to vote.

In Minnesota, supporters of voter photo ID say it's needed to prevent fraud. Opponents say fraud is not an issue, so it's a costly solution in search of a problem.

Those with no identification have two options for voting in North Dakota. Silrum says one is to have a poll worker who knows them vouch on their behalf.

"If no poll worker is able to do that, than the voter is able to complete what is called a voter's affidavit in which they're making a sworn statement that, yes, they are a qualified elector, even though they don't have any form of identification to prove that."

Another measure on Minnesota's ballot would effectively cement a ban on gay marriage by using the state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Supporters say it's to protect the sanctity of marriage, and that without it, children statewide may end up being forced to learn about gay marriage as in Massachusetts. However, a spokesman for that state's Department of Education, J.C. Considine, says Massachusetts has no such mandate.

"The truth is the state of Massachusetts doesn't require that any student in any grade be taught about same-sex marriage. There is also no requirement that Massachusetts' schools use any particular books or materials. These are all local decisions made by local school districts and local school committees."

The latest Minnesota poll from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune found likely voters are basically split down the middle on the marriage amendment, with 48% in support and 47% opposed.

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