Shaping a State Constitution

By KBJR News 1

October 10, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 9:00 PM CST

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- Voters hitting the polls this fall will be faced with two questions, shaping the document that guides our democracy every day. The amendments to the Minnesota state constitution may differ in content, but overlap in one big way.

They change the constitution.

"The constitution is a permanent document. The constitution sets forth what government can do in the constitution and the bill of rights says what rights are guaranteed to the citizens," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

Article Nine of the Minnesota constitution spells out how to amend this document; a majority of lawmakers must pass legislation to be voted on by the people at election time.

"The only constitutional amendment I heard of that was a direct repeal was prohibition," said Freeman.

It's more concrete then passing a statute or law.

"Our constitution is our highest law...you can't change it, fix it, tweak it, if it's in the constitution," said Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Now, Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey is voicing his concerns about what Minnesotans will vote on November 6th, amendments mandating a photo ID to vote, and a ban on same sex marriage.

"We have some concerns that one, citizens in Minnesota aren't aware of all the information that they are going to be voting on, and I think when I have conversations with Minnesotans on the two amendments, the vast majority of them, they are expressing a preference to vote no," said Lindsey in Duluth Wednesday.

But proponents of the changes say the amendments appearance on the ballot this fall demonstrates democracy at it's finest, putting the decision in the hands of the people.

And remember, a majority of all electors must vote yes to ratify the amendment, if you skip the question, it counts as a "no" vote.

The latest numbers from Public Policy Polling show that support for the amendment banning gay marriage is slightly behind the opposition, 49 to 46.

Support for the Photo ID amendment is up seven points, 51 to 43.

Zach Vavricka

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