An alternative would be to require that all voters mailing in a ballot have a witness check their photo ID and sign the ballot envelope. Most absentee voters already must have a witness when they submit their ballot. Still, amendment supporters want to do away with the current system of allowing a registered voter to vouch for another voter at the polls, and the witness-system for mail-in voters would present essentially identical concerns.
The amendment was put on the ballot, over the objections of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, on a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled Legislature. But Cornish is confident that lawmakers, whoever controls the House and Senate after Nov. 6, will reach agreement with Dayton on enabling legislation that avoids worst-case scenarios.
Cornish, who is unopposed for re-election to the House, has spent some of his campaign funds this fall on pro-amendment radio ads. He said some Republicans are keeping their heads down in relation to the amendment, saying they just wanted to give voters the right to decide the issue.
“I did it because I believe in it, and I think we need it,” the five-term Republican said. “I support it wholeheartedly.”
Penny, a Democrat while in Congress and now an independent, said he’s bothered by a process where voter rights are determined via a proposed constitutional amendment drafted and enacted solely by one party. And he said the complexity of the questions surrounding the amendment and its potential ramifications only reinforce that the language shouldn’t be enshrined in the state constitution.
“I’ve always said, ‘The more people learn about this amendment, the less they’re going to like it,’” Penny said.