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I’m hoping that Dan Severson will defeat Steve Simon next Tuesday and become Minnesota’s next Secretary of State. To help in that effort, Dan’s running this ad:

Here’s the transcript from the ad:

NICOLE PELZER: I’m Nicole Pelzer and I support Dan Severson for Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, his job would be to oversee elections, work with businesses and administer the Safe At Home program. As a Navy commander and Top Gun fighter pilot and former state legislator, Dan has the leadership, integrity and discipline to succeed in all that he does. He isn’t just a great candidate. I’m also proud to call him my dad.
DAN SEVERSON: I’m Dan Severson and I would be honored to have your vote on November 4th.

I’ve known Dan for almost a decade. I can verify that he’s a leader and man of integrity. This isn’t just about personal character, though Dan’s got that in abundance. It’s also that Dan’s a man of ideas. It’s also that his opponent is Mark Ritchie in a more expensive suit.

Dan’ proposing a pair of initiatives if he’s elected. The first initiative would make it easier for Minnesotans serving overseas in the military to vote. Ken Martin’s biggest criticism at the time was that Dan hadn’t introduced that legislation when he was a legislator. (Of course, the technology that’s used wasn’t reliable then as it is now but why let important points like that get in the way of a DFL hissy fit, right?)

The other initiative that Dan’s proposed is something that’s called Express Lane Voting. People that are already registered and who have a valid photo ID would be able to hop in the voting equivalent of an express lane at a grocery story. People using EDR, aka Election Day Registration, would use the other lane. Dan’s opponent already is throwing a hissy fit over that:

To me, and all I have to go on are his words, it’s a way to marginalize and ostracize and exclude people who don’t have the type of ID that he and others like him think they should have. I think this is a warmed over version of the Voter ID proposal that Minnesotans have rejected.

Minnesotans don’t need a politically correct Metrocrat from the perpetually offended wing of the DFL. They need a man with a lengthy leadership history. They need a man of integrity.

Minnesotans need Dan Severson as their next Secretary of State.

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Last night, I watched the Almanac Roundtable debate featuring the candidates for Secretary of State. The lasting impression I left with was straightforward. Steve Simon is Mark Ritchie in an expensive suit. He’s thoroughly indoctrinated in liberal ideology with regards to voting fraud. The other thing about him is that he apparently thinks voters are incredibly stupid.

Let’s take that last one first. After Dan Severson highlighted the vulnerabilities of Minnesota’s election system, Rep. Simon replied, saying “Would Minnesota have the highest voter turnout rate in the nation if people didn’t trust it?” That’s a nice-sounding answer but it doesn’t have anything to do with whether the system is secure. The fact that Democrats continually talk about Minnesota’s election system as the nation’s gold standard is because they don’t want people checking out the details of whether the system is fraught with vulnerabilities.

Rep. Simon’s answer totally ignores the vulnerabilities in Minnesota’s voting system. I know more than a little about this since I wrote a series of articles highlighting those vulnerabilities. (See here, here, here and here.)

Part IV is particularly disturbing because it shows how protective the election machine is of their system:

Thanks to KSTP-TV’s reporting, we learned that cities threw “up legal roadblocks” to their investigation. We learned that Bloomington “even suggested that felony charges could be pursued against” KSTP-TV if they “reported what [they] found.”

A system that’s the gold standard for election participation shouldn’t threaten people examining the system. They especially shouldn’t threaten reporters investigating Minnesota’s election system. The thought that they’d throw up legal roadblocks and suggest that they’d file felony charges against KSTP’s reporters strongly suggests that Minnesota’s election system is anything but impervious to voter fraud.

The DFL says that there’s little proof of fraud existing. That isn’t true but let’s say it is. The video shows that there’s a number of vulnerabilities in the absentee ballot system. Why wouldn’t we want to eliminate those vulnerabilities?

Another of the DFL’s chanting points is that we should want high voter participation rates. That sounds nice but it comes with a catch. The insinuation always comes with the suggestion that everyone who requests a ballot should get a ballot. There’s never a mention that this should be done within the context of the requirements in Minnesota’s constitution.

Steve Simon doesn’t have Mark Ritchie’s history of corruption. Still, Simon is nothing if not a puppet doing the same things Mark Ritchie did. That’s a step sideways after a major step backwards in 2006. We don’t need Mark Ritchie in a better suit. We need a man of integrity who won’t blindly incorporate the DFL’s chanting points into Minnesota state statutes.

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Under DFL domination, the percentage of active military personnel serving overseas has dropped from 15% to a pathetic 5%. Despite the DFL’s claims that their policies increase voter turnout, America’s patriots don’t seem to benefit from the DFL’s policies.

Less than 3 weeks from now, Minnesotans have the opportunity to rectify that by electing Dan Severson. Severson has a plan to make it easier for military personnel serving overseas to vote:

Dan Severson says delays in mailing ballots and lack of awareness has brought military voter participation to as low as 5%. Severson proposes creating a secure online voting network for soldiers. A similar system has been used in Arizona.

Steve Simon, Severson’s opponent for Secretary of State, has a less efficient plan:

Simon says military members benefit from the new, no-excuse absentee voting law he shepherded through the Legislature last session. He says Severson’s online voting proposal is worth exploring.

Simon isn’t accurate. No-excuse voting isn’t that big of a benefit because it still takes tons of time to get ballots from war zones back to Minnesota. The online system that Severson is proposing eliminates the mailing of ballots. Ballots wouldn’t have to be mailed to our service personnel. Our service personnel wouldn’t have to worry that the military’s post office would get the ballots back before the deadline, either.

Fill out the ballot. Hit enter.

That’s about as simple a procedure as you’ll find.

Steve Simon didn’t insist on making voting easier for our military, which indicates it isn’t a priority for him. That’s unacceptable. Severson’s commitment to service personnel guarantees that military turnout would be taken seriously. Our heroes deserve nothing less.

As long as we don’t hire the people who designed MNsure or HealthCare.gov, we should be fine.

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Thanks to Twin Metals-Minnesota’s FOIA request and the Ely Echo’s investigative reporting, Becky Rom was caught lying about her organization’s role in proposing a programmatic environmental impact statement, aka a PEIS. Here’s the key part of the Echo’s reporting:

So we called Rom and asked her if she or any of the groups she is affiliated with formally requested a PEIS from the Forest Service. As a former attorney, Rom is skilled at not answering questions. So we pressed and pressed some more. Here’s the best of answers we could get:

  1. “I’ve encouraged the agencies to do what’s required under the law and using the best science.”
  2. “Nobody is pushing for an extra layer or extra delays or costs or more money. I’m just saying this is really important and doing right is following the law and basing decisions on the best science.”
  3. “I did not pen any letter but I’ve had these discussions.”
  4. “As far as I know there’s no formal process for a request like a petition.”

We specifically asked if Rom had approached U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Robert Bonnie (who oversees the USFS).

“I never talked about this to Mr. Bonnie.”

We put a phone call into the USFS office in Duluth but weren’t able to get any answers prior to deadline on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day weekend.

We checked the news releases of the various groups who have been accused of asking for the PEIS and found nothing. Nobody wants to claim they asked for this. Then, late Thursday a Freedom of Information Act request by Twin Metals-Minnesota was granted. Upon request, they shared those documents with us. If anyone would like a copy, just send us an email.

In the documents provided by the Bureau of Land Management was a letter asking for the PEIS. The agency requesting the PEIS? Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. And who is the vice-chair of NEMW? Becky Rom.NEMW and Conservation Minnesota have both lied to Minnesotans about precious metals mining. Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton has sat idly by while CM, NEMW and other militant environmental activist organizations have spread their lies in their attempt to stop the PolyMet and Twin Metals-Minnensota mining projects dead in their tracks.

Gov. Dayton has tried walking the same perilous political tightrope that Sen. Franken is attempting to navigate. He’s tried to say as little as possible in his attempt to keep the miners and environmental activists on his side. For those who haven’t paid attention to this issue, miners and environmental activists interact together like oil and water.

Several times, Gov. Dayton delayed action on mining leases. State Auditor Rebecca Otto sent out a fundraising appeal after the Executive Council voted to delay approval of mining leases. In that fundraising appeal, Otto bragged how she stood up to the miners.

While Gov. Dayton wasn’t foolish enough to do that, he did vote against approving the leases. That clearly demonstrates who he’s sided with on mining. Here’s what Kent Kaiser wrote about Gov. Dayton’s delaying tactics:

This month, Minnesota’s State Executive Council, which includes the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor, voted to delay 77 leases to explore for copper and nickel on private lands in northern Minnesota. This short-sighted action was initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

If Gov. Dayton won’t actively side with the miners against these dishonest environmental activists, then it’s time that Iron Rangers help elect a pro-mining governor and pro-mining senators.

I wrote here how important this issue is to the mining families of St. Louis County. If Gov. Dayton doesn’t change direction on this important issue soon, he should be fired this November.

Hard working Iron Range families can’t wait.

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One of the things coming out of the MNsure debacle is that the DFL legislature, especially the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee’s co-chairs, ran interference for Gov. Dayton. The MNsure scandal will be the DFL’s defeat next November, thanks in no small part to the legislative auditor’s investigation into why the launch failed, who knew in advance it would fail and why the MNsure Board didn’t alert Gov. Dayton or the Oversight Committee.

These aren’t tiny things. They can’t be categorized as glitches, either. These are major problems that should’ve been reported even though they’d cause political damage. GOP Sen. Sean Nienow raised questions back in September about MNsure’s data security. GOP Sen. Michelle Benson raised questions about MNsure’s priorities, questioning April Todd-Malmlov’s management abilities.

Prior to a committee meeting in September, Sen. Nienow said that he had 40 questions about data security. At the meeting, Ms. Todd-Malmlov said she didn’t have the answers to Sen. Nienow’s question. Instead, she promised to get the answers for him. Three months later, she kept her promise. It isn’t likely she would’ve kept her promise if it wasn’t for the fact that KSTP was going to run an article about data security that night.

Sen. Benson questioned Ms. Todd-Malmlov’s priorities. Specifically, she asked why Ms. Todd-Malmlov started the MNsure ad campaign before she put the training programs in place or made sure the sensitive data was secured. That’s proof of Ms. Todd-Malmlov’s incompetence.

Unfortunately, incompetence isn’t the reason why Oversight Committee co-chairs Rep. Joe Atkins and Sen. Tony Lourey didn’t hold hearings in October, November and December. The problems that Sen. Nienow worried about in September came to fruition in October. Worst of all, they weren’t fixed in November or December.

Meanwhile, Rep. Atkins appeared on several shows, including the Capitol Report in September and Almanac in December. In fact, during his September appearance on Capitol report, he said he was confident everything would work well when MNsure launched.

Rep. Atkins’ happy talk might buy the DFL a little time to get MNsure running but it won’t buy them much time to fix MNsure. Meanwhile, Minnesotans will be upset that the Democrats’ happy talk was meant to buy political cover for Gov. Dayton. Most importantly, Minnesotans don’t like major problems being swept under the rug. They’d rather know that the problems are getting fixed.

Apparently, Democrats, whether it’s Ms. Todd-Malmlov, Rep. Atkins, Sen. Lourey or Gov. Dayton think it’s more important to start the PR machine than to get the essentials fixed. The DFL’s decision to work on MNsure’s PR campaign rather than get MNsure working tells Minnesotans that their priorities aren’t right.

Minnesotans deserve things that work, not things with cute commmercials.

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Minnesotans haven’t seen this many political surprise ever. First, Michele Bachmann announced she isn’t running for re-election. Within days, Jim Graves, her announced opponent, announced he isn’t running. Yesterday, Mark Ritchie announced that he isn’t seeking re-election:

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to a third term in 2014.

“This is the right decision for me and my family right now,” said Ritchie, 61. “When I did the math, if I would be honored by being re-elected, I would be closer to 70 than 65″ after completing another term.

The Mark Ritchie Era is thankfully coming to a close. Ritchie fought against voter integrity most of his time in office. He refused to admit reality, which is that Minnesota’s election system isn’t the gold standard anymore. He fought against his own party on election integrity.

There’s sure to be a stampede to replace Ritchie. It’ll be interesting to see who emerges as the parties’ frontrunners.

This op-ed by Rolf Westgard states the damage done by the Twin Cities DFL in its attempts to killing precious metal mining projects.

Last spring, Conservation Minnesota created a website telling Minnesotans that projects like the Twin Metals mining project near Ely and the PolyMet precious metals mining project near Hoyt Lakes would severely damage watersheds. Mr. Westgard refutes that:

There is a 714-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement(DEIS) for the Polymet Project from the Minnesota DNR and the Corps of Engineers. It is clear from the Statement that any effluent from the project ends up in the drainage areas of the Partridge and Embarrass Rivers. Those rivers flow south to the St Louis River and Lake Superior, not north to the Boundary Waters.

The DEIS is generally positive about the project, and it suggests that if all of Polymet’s commitments are met, there is no serious impact on the environment. The following quote from the DEIS on the Partridge River applies to its analysis of all three rivers involved: “Even with these higher loadings and assuming no natural attenuation, the model results indicate that water quality standards for the Partridge River would be maintained for the eight constituents studied (i.e., antimony, arsenic, fluoride, cobalt, copper, nickel, vanadium, and sulfate) under all flow conditions and mine years modeled. Therefore, even using relatively conservative assumptions, the Proposed Action is not predicted to result in any exceedances of surface water quality standards for the Partridge River at the modeled locations.”

Simply put, the DEIS’s findings refute everything Conservation Minnesota and Alida Messinger said about these mining projects. What’s more important is that Conservation Minnesota’s fearmongering-filled campaign against Twin Metals, PolyMet and other proposed mining projects might have a significant impact:

The state of Minnesota owns more than 6,000 acres of land in the region, and I estimate that Minnesota’s schools would collect at least $2.0 billion in royalties in the coming decades if these new mining projects proceed. This state property is known as “school trust lands.” Under the Minnesota Constitution, income from such lands is earmarked for the Permanent School Fund, which contributes about $60 per pupil to every school district. An analysis by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources projected that the school fund, with assets of $720 million, could more than triple in size with these new royalties over 25 to 30 years.

In other words, preventing these mining projects from happening is stealing $60 per year for each public school student for the next thirty years. That’s the impact that Conservation Minnesota and other militant environmentalist organizations would have on school funding.

What’s most disturbing is the fact that the EPA is essentially admitting that they’re rejecting PolyMet’s proposal for political reasons:

PolyMet is the furthest along in the environmental review and permitting process. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the company’s draft Environmental Impact Statement a failing grade, calling the mine’s environmental impacts “unacceptable” and the review itself “inadequate.”

Dr. Westgard isn’t the oil companies’ shill. He isn’t the mining companies’ shill either. Dr. Westgard is “a professional member [of the] Geological Society of America and is guest faculty on energy subjects for the U of Minnesota LIfelong Learning program.” If Dr. Westgard is convinced that the Arrowhead, the Iron Range and especially the Partridge River won’t be negatively affected by these projects, then it’s imperative that these projects get started ASAP.

These projects will rejuvenate the Iron Range’s economy while pouring significant money into K-12 education without hurting the environment. Why wouldn’t Conservation Minnesota, the Metro DFL and the Silent Six jump at this win-win-win opportunity?

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Once again, the Twin Cities DFL voted to drive another nail in the miners’ coffin:

The state Executive Council in St. Paul voted 3-1 to delay the leases pending a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on whether an Environmental Assessment Worksheet should be done to gauge potential environmental impact where the exploration will take place.

Mining companies want the leases to expand their search for copper, nickel, gold, platinum and other valuable metals away from known deposits and into new areas. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ruled in October that no environmental review was necessary before the leases are awarded. But several northern Minnesota citizens disagreed, and last month they filed a petition with the Court of Appeals.
The same citizens on Thursday asked the Executive Council to hold off on approving the leases until the court has ruled.

Gov. Mark Dayton, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Auditor Rebecca Otto agreed, and voted to delay action. Attorney General Lori Swanson supported the DNR leases. Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon was not at Thursday’s meeting in St. Paul.
Dayton went as far as scolding DNR officials for not making the minerals lease process more open and accessible for public input, and he called for a meeting in his office in the near future to include concerned citizens and top DNR staff.

Gov. Dayton’s hissy fit is great theatrics but the Executive Council’s vote says it all. The Twin Cities DFL consistently votes against the mining industry’s interests:

It’s the second time in as many years that the Executive Council has delayed mineral leases, although for different reasons. In 2011 the board delayed action after many private landowners said they were not aware the state held mineral rights under their land and that the state was about to allow mining companies to drill there. Despite sympathizing with the landowners’ plight, and delaying action for several months, the council eventually approved the 2011 leases in May this year.

This time the issue isn’t private property but what kind of impact drilling and other exploration activity might have on public and private lands, especially in sensitive areas near wetlands, trout streams, state parks and trails. Several of the latest proposed leases are in Lake County, near state parks and North Shore trout streams, said Matt Tyler, the Finland resident who has led the effort for environmental review before mineral leases are approved.

Every time the Executive Council votes to delay the letting of mineral leases is a delay to creating high-paying mining jobs. It’s also an opportunity for them to lie about what’s really motivating them. This year, the Executive Council, aka the DFL statewide officeholders, said that they wanted the Minnesota Court of Appeals to rule on whether an Environmental Assessment Worksheet should be done prior to letting the leases.

Last year, the Executive Council twice delayed the letting of leases under the premise that Arrowhead and Iron Range landowners didn’t know they didn’t own the mineral rights to their property. When the State Executive Council voted for delaying the leases, Prof. Kent Kaiser wrote an LTE scoffing at that notion while expressing his anger with the Twin Cities DFL:

This month, Minnesota’s State Executive Council, which includes the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor, voted to delay 77 leases to explore for copper and nickel on private lands in northern Minnesota.

This short-sighted action was initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. It was unfortunate for the job situation in the Northland, and I know many Minnesotans are terribly disappointed.

After all, the people of Minnesota own the rights to minerals in the state, including those under private land. Anyone from Northeastern Minnesota knows this; I remember learning this fact in elementary school.

The Twin Cities DFL will always get its way because they’d rather kill the mining industry outright. That isn’t speculation. The DFL has made their point exceptionally clear:

Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy are targeting the proposed PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes and the proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely.

The campaign includes the web site MiningTruth.org, a 40-page report examining mining in detail, a Facebook community, and four billboards along Interstate 35 between the Twin Cities and Duluth to reach summer travelers.

Those complaining that these organizations aren’t the DFL are arguing over semantics. Alida Messinger sits on Conservation Minnesota’s Board of Directors. People who’ve read LFR (and Shot in the Dark) know that Alida owns the DFL and ABM, otherwise known as the deceitful, smear campaign wing of the DFL:

Alida wants to kill precious metal mining before it starts. That isn’t speculation. That’s what the International Falls Journal reported. As disgusting as Twin Cities DFL politicians are, they pail in comparison with the cowardice of Iron Range DFL politicians. They’re the people who are supposed to stand up for their constituents. Since this delay, as with the other times the State Executive Council voted against the miners’ interest, Senators Tom Bakk, David Thomassoni, and Tom Saxhaug didn’t criticize the DFL members of the State Executive Committee. Ditto with Representatives Tom Anzelc, Carly Melin and Dave Dill.

These spineless wimps let the Twin Cities DFL elitists ruin the lives of Iron Range miners without the Iron Range DFL criticizing the elitists. It’s time that Iron Range voters threw out the Silent Six for not looking out for the Iron Range’s best interests.

Likewise, Iron Range voters shouldn’t vote DFL in the statewide elections, either. Gov. Dayton, Secretary of State Ritchie and State Auditor Rebecca Otto consistently vote against the miners’ interests. I’ll guarantee that electing a GOP-filled State Executive Council will prove to be a vote for the best interests of mining communities.

It’s that simple.

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Mark Ritchie’s willingness to do anything to prevent the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment from becoming the governing authority on elections is breathtaking. This video shows what tactics Mr. Ritchie will use to defeat the proposed Photo ID amendment:

Here’s the transcript of Ms. Farrell’s statement:

I am Barbara Farrell, the president of the Minnesota chapter of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. I received a letter from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. The letter he sent me came from his office using state resources asking me to stand against the voter ID amendment and to also have my group stand against it.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., as a group does not take political positions. Therefore, our group cannot stand one way or the other on the issue but as a mother of a military person who died while on active duty, I am outraged by the letter because in it, Mark Ritchie says that the new Voter amendment, if passed, would take away the military vote, make it more difficult for our military personnel overseas to vote when that is not the case.

I am also outraged that he would use state resources to campaign against an issue that, as Secretary of State, he should be neutral on.

Mr. Ritchie is lying when he says that the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment would stop military voting. He knows he’s lying because the UOCAVA, aka the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, controls elections for military personnel serving overseas. Since this is a federal issue, UOCAVA is constitutional from a Tenth Amendment standpoint. That means nothing a state does, whether through statutes or through constitutional amendments, affects absentee balloting for military personnel serving overseas.

What’s worse is that Ritchie made this campaign appeal using official Secretary of State stationary, something that’s expressly forbidden:

“There are a lot of subtleties about the line separating official function from campaigns,” Nobles said on Monday. “But this one was not subtle. It was an official document, and a reference to a running mate has no place in it.”

Whether it’s Mike Hatch using official OAG stationary to talk about his runningmate or it’s Mark Ritchie using official SOS stationery to defeat the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, the same rules apply. The principle is exquisitely simple. Supplies bought with the taxpayers’ money can only be used for the taxpayers’ business.

Campaigns aren’t the taxpayers’ business.

It’s time for Mr. Ritchie to get impeached. He’s committed to not enforcing this proposed constitutional amendment like he’s been committed to not fulfilling his responsibilities mandated by the HAVA of 2002.

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Opponents of Minnesota’s proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment gave away their secret for estimating the cost of elections in a Photo ID environment:

Ritchie has largely relied on a 2011 estimate state Minnesota Management and Budget officials prepared for a voter ID bill that Gov. Dayton later vetoed. It showed roughly $32 million in start up costs for the state, with another $24 million for counties.

Ritchie’s flaw is that S.F. 509 is nothing like the proposed constitutional amendment. S.F. 509 is almost 2,000 lines long. H.F. 2738 is 39 lines long.

Based on H.F. 2738’s language, it’s impossible for Ritchie to know what the cost is. Ritchie’s ‘statistics’ (I use that term exceptionally loosely) are, at best, wild estimates.

In testimony to the House Government Finance Committee, Ritchie admitted that there are probably less than 100,000 people who would be eligible to vote who don’t have state-issued photographic identification. If that’s accurate, then the cost of providing free photographic identification would be less than $2,000,000 initially.

Educating citizens of the requirements of the new constitutional amendment wouldn’t cost the millions of dollars opponents of Photo ID claim it would. Most of the education could be done by civic groups for little or nothing.

The cost to counties allegation is fiction. The only potential cost to a county would be from DFL activists filing lawsuits claiming a voter was disenfranchised because of the Photo ID requirement. That type of lawsuit would likely get tossed because the litigants would have to prove that they couldn’t obtain photographic identification.

Ritchie and other opponents of the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment don’t have many options left in defeating it. That’s why they’re resorting to scare tactics, dishonest statistics and threats of frivolous lawsuits.

Their options are pretty pathetic at this point.

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