Forum Communications Editorial - Vote no to amendmentsConstitutions are all about the structuring of government; they offer overall guiding principles and framework to help make sure our rulers don’t trample on our personal rights and liberties. They’re big-picture documents.
Editor’s note: A longer version of this editorial appeared in The Duluth News Tribune. The position was determined by its editorial board and Forum Communications. The Echo Press is also a Forum Communications newspaper.
Constitutions are all about the structuring of government; they offer overall guiding principles and framework to help make sure our rulers don’t trample on our personal rights and liberties. They’re big-picture documents.
Also, constitutions don’t change, generally speaking, so founders are careful about what to include in them.
Minnesota voters on November 6 can be just as careful with the state’s constitution. They can vote “no” on a pair of ballot questions that aren’t as constitutional as they are legislative, as they are matters more appropriate for our lawmakers’ careful deliberations and decisions.
Changes to the constitution should be rare and under special circumstances. They’ve been made that way since Minnesota’s constitution was adopted in 1857.
Neither the marriage amendment nor the voter ID amendment rise to the level of constitutional consideration.
So how did they get on next month’s ballot in the first place? Legislators are using the amendments to get around a governor’s veto instead of trying to build a larger base of support from fellow legislators.
Both the marriage and voter ID issues scream for more conversation at the Legislature, not quick and uninformed passage by voters in next month’s election.
To some, requiring picture identification at polling places is a way to protect the integrity of elections. Election fraud, however, is nearly nonexistent.
The voter ID amendment is rife with unanswered questions about potentially astronomical costs, just what sort of fraud would be addressed and more. There are also legitimate concerns that it could restrict voting, especially among elderly, minority, low-income and student populations, where IDs aren’t as common or where obtaining the paperwork to get an ID can be financially or logistically difficult.
In addition, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said many voters don’t even know what they’re voting for with regard to voter ID. The actual language won’t be printed on ballots. And the state doesn’t publish full texts in newspapers like it used to until about 20 years ago.
The marriage amendment is also flawed. Same-sex marriage already is against the law in Minnesota. Why add it to the constitution? Would that just end the conversation? It seems a conversation that should be just beginning.
Minnesota’s Constitution demands respect and reverence for the important document it is. Misusing it to pass laws when appropriate channels prove unsuccessful cheapens it. And who in Minnesota wouldn’t vote “no” to that?