The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 6, 2012

Your View: Amendment requirement is nothing new

By Rosalyn Claret, St. Peter

— Several recent letter writers have warned that not marking an answer on the marriage amendment question "counts as a no vote."

Your View writer Tom Roggow characterizes this as a heavy-handed government attempt to ignore the intentions of non-voters and decree that they are "really voting no."

This is not an accurate description of how our votes are counted. In Minnesota, our constitution sets a high bar for proposed changes. Any amendment to this important document must be approved by a majority of all voters in an election.

In other words, for an amendment to pass, 51 percent of all ballots cast must show a "yes" vote. That means amendment questions are not decided by simply measuring the number of "yes" and "no" votes against one another.

Amendment questions are decided by measuring the number of "yes" votes against the entire pool of voters. Therefore, any ballot -- regardless of how, or whether, it answers the marriage question -- can still affect the outcome. As the size of the voter pool increases, it takes a greater number of "yes" votes to maintain a majority within that total.

This requirement of Minnesota's constitution (Article IX, Section 1) has been in place for over 100 years. It is not particular to this administration, this election, or to the marriage amendment itself.

If you do not like being placed in the position of having to vote one way or another on this issue, please remember which party put it on the ballot in the first place, and hold them accountable.