After the show this morning, I was advised by more than one member of the legislislature - including a member of the Republican legislative leadership - that the Secretary of State has the legal authority to title a proposed constitutional ballot question as he chooses. According to these legislators, there is nothing they can do about it - in fact, one legislator proposed that if a citizen wants to "help" he or she should give money to Minnesota Majority to fund the lawsuit. While there is no objection to the legislative solicitation for Minnesota Majority, it is interesting that the members of the legislature would completely wave off any legislative authority to at least investigate what - to the best of our knowledge on this topic - is the first time a Secretary of State has re-written the title of a proposed constitutional amendment duly passed by the legislature.
Minnesota Statute §204D.15 provides in pertinent part:
Subdivision 1. Titles for constitutional amendments. The secretary of state shall provide an appropriate title for each question printed on the pink ballot. The title shall be approved by the attorney general, and shall consist of not more than one printed line above the question to which it refers. At the top of the ballot just below the heading, a conspicuous notice shall be printed stating that a voter’s failure to vote on a constitutional amendment has the effect of a negative vote.
This is the legal authority by which the Minnesota Secretary of State used to re-title the two proposed amendments to the Minnesota Constitution that will be on the ballot this fall. While the Attorney General has approved the proposed rewrite of the titles of each ballot initiative the question remains, why? Especially in regard to the proposed photo ID amendment. Did the Secretary act in good faith or as a political partisan? Did he violate any provision of the Minnesota’s campaign finance law?
Regardless of any pending or potential court challenge, why isn’t someone at least asking the question?