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Minn. Court Weighs Edited Ballot Question Titles

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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday morning regarding two ballot question titles.

One is for the proposed Marriage Constitutional Amendment passed by the 2011 Legislature. The Legislature wanted the title to read, “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman.”

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, changed that to, “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples.”

The other ballot title is for the Voter ID Amendment question passed this year by the Legislature.

The title used to say, “Photo Identification Required for Voting.” The Secretary of State changed that title to read “Changes to in-person and absentee voting and voter registration, provisional ballot.”

The justices heard both sides Tuesday and asked questions.

The argument comes down to who has the final say to word a constitutional amendment question on the ballot — the legislature or the Secretary of State?

You have one side arguing that the legislature has the final say, and that the Secretary of State overstepped his constitutional responsibility while titling the question that voters will see on the November ballot.

The Secretary of State’s office argued Tuesday morning that Mark Ritchie wrote the titles to clarify what the amendments really mean and did so because voters have the right to be as informed as possible. And to take that constitutional power away from the Secretary of State would mean another round of voting at the capitol.

It appears there could be several different outcomes here.

There were multiple times where justices said they were confused about the arguments.

The justices did ask about putting the entire amendments on the ballot and eliminating the titles, which would add a lot of text to the November ballot.

Ritchie has asked for a decision by Aug. 27. He said he’ll need that much time to prepare everything for the November election.

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