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Ritchie Accused Of ‘Political Meddling’ With Marriage & ID Amendments

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - A group in support of the Gay Marriage Amendment in Minnesota this fall went to court today. They’re trying to stop Secretary of State Mark Ritchie from changing the title on the ballot in the voting booth, which they called “political meddling”.

Secretary Mark Ritchie first changed the title on the Gay Marriage Amendment, and now faces a lawsuit to stop it.

And then he changed the name of the Voter ID amendment. Secretary of State Ritchie claimed authority to change the amendment title in a letter to Minnesota’s Attorney General.

But Republican lawmakers like Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Warren Limmer say the Secretary’s actual intent is to influence the vote.

“Those words are definitely considered negative and misleading. And I believe they’re created to sway the voter,” said Limmer.

The 2011 legislature approved the marriage amendment against a backdrop of protest and controversy, voting to title it “Recognition of Marriage as Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”

Ritchie changed it to “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples”.

Ritchie refused comment on the marriage amendment title, citing pending litigation. But just hours later, he changed the title of the Voter ID amendment.

The constitutional amendment that was once called “Photo Identification Required for Voting”. It will now be labeled “Changes To In-Person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots”.

Ritchie refused comment on Voter ID as well, but in April he questioned not just the title, but the entire Voter ID bill, calling it “chaos” and “spin”.

“It’s not my belief that photographic identification is the 21st century, because it is really from the 18th and 19th century,” said Ritchie.

These two amendment situations are merely the on-ramp to the hottest political issues of the summer.

The marriage amendment lawsuit will go straight to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Voter ID is already scheduled for a High Court hearing next week.

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