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Minnesota’s Voter ID: What Was Supposed To Pass — Didn’t

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ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota voters have shot down the Voter ID amendment, but even just a few weeks ago, it had overwhelming support. So, how did this happen?

A few months back, voter Kim Holbrook said of the amendment to require photo identification to vote, “It sounds like it’s common sense.”

However, by Election Day, the Anoka County resident’s perspective had changed. She’d talked with her friends while volunteering for the AARP and came to believe, “The hidden meaning isn’t always apparent.”

It was hundreds of thousands of voters like Holbrook who’d changed their minds about the proposed constitutional amendment that opponents believe gave them a win. They say phone calls, radio and television ads helped them educate voters, especially those in the suburbs. A particular powerful television ad with current Gov. Mark Dayton and former Gov. Arne Carlson moved people, according to several people casting “no” ballots.

“I was basically going by Governor Carlson,” said Anoka resident Al Hetrick.

Ultimately, 52 percent of Minnesotans voted no, while 46 percent voted yes. Even campaign officials were surprised at the wide margin. Polls going into the race had the two sides even.

“I don’t think any of us thought the margin would be this,” said TakeAction Minnesota Executive Director Dan McGrath.

McGrath calls the national significance of this vote, “extraordinarily important.” Experts say that while courts have blocked some of the more restrictive voter laws, this is the first outright defeat of its kind.

“The fact that Minnesota affirmatively said ‘no’ to this sends a big signal to the country that these laws are out of step with the political will of the people,” McGrath said.

Supporters of the amendment say they were simply outspent in this campaign. Protect My Vote Campaign Manager Dan McGrath said he had trouble raising money from donors who believed they’d easily win passage of the amendment.

“We couldn’t quite raise enough money to pull it off to the extent we wanted,” he said.

Supporter McGrath says he’ll continue to push for election reform through the legislature, but acknowledges it could be a tough sell, given the DFL majority. Looking back, he says he might have changed strategies to focus less on media and more on grassroots.

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