Houston County bucks statewide trend on marriage amendment, in line on photo ID
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:13 AM
Minnesota voters last Tuesday turned back a proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for voting as well as proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
The photo ID amendment garnered 1,522,860 "no" votes or 52 percent with blank ballots, which count as "no" votes. Blank ballots totalled 41,785 or 1 percent.
Those who supported the voter ID amendment tallied 1,344,758 "yes" votes or 46 percent. That was short of the 50 percent or greater needed for passage.
Amendment supporters of the gay marriage question garnered 1,374,189 votes or 48 percent. That was also short of the 50 percent or greater total needed to approve the amendment.
"No" votes stood at 1,479,829 (51 percent) while blank ballots, which equaled a "no" vote, totaled 33,876, or about 1 percent.
Houston County results
Houston County had 6,066 votes or 58.77 percent in favor of the marriage amendment versus 4,256 or 41.23 percent voting "no" on the issue.
Regarding the voter ID amendment, residents were almost evenly split with 5,162 "no" votes (50.07 percent) edging out the "yes" voters that cast 5,147 "yes" ballots (49.93 percent).
Voter ID thoughts
Republican majority leader Dave Senjem (Rochester) said the voters have spoken, and he accepts their decision. The Minnesota vote went against a trend in other states to approve voter ID.
The amendment would have required photo IDs but accepted "substantially equivalent" identification from absentee and other voters who did not cast ballots in polling places on Election Day.
It would have been up to the next Legislature to determine what is equivalent to a photo ID and to enact a number of laws to implement the amendment.
Debate on the issue of voter IDs is occurring in many states, with the National Conference of State Legislatures reporting a dozen states have voter photo ID requirements.
The defeat of the photo ID requirement was surprising, with the proposal drawing strong support in polls for months. The amendment was put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Those same Republicans lost their House and Senate majorities on Tuesday.
Constitutional amendment proposals are passed by the Legislature, this year controlled by Republicans, and go directly to voters. The governor has no official say, although Dayton had campaigned against voter ID.
Voter ID supporters said they had dug up files on hundreds of illegal votes. Most, however, were felons whose voting rights had not been restored, a category of illegal voters that amendment opponents said would not be affected by requiring an ID.
Gay marriage amendment
Minnesota voters defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage - an amendment once considered a likely winner.
Opponents of the amendment suggested it helped engage voters, thus flipping the state Legislature to DFL control.
Some experts think that instead of encouraging conservative voters, the amendments engaged those who did not want constitutional changes.
Gay marriage remains illegal under Minnesota state law. The amendment would have put that prohibition in the constitution. But the outcome of the vote, and the Democratic takeover of the Legislature, is likely to initiate a push for legal gay marriage in the state.
According to exit poll data, the marriage ban was opposed by a majority of women and backed by a majority of men.
Votes were also divided by age, with voters under 50 against it by a substantial majority and those over 50 strongly in favor.
Seven in 10 voters who attend religious services, and four in five born-again or evangelical voters supported it.
The vote also split by party lines; three in four Democrats said they voted against it, and three in four Republicans backed it.
The marriage amendment mobilized thousands of volunteers and attracted more than $16 million in campaign contributions, drawing more passion than the state's presidential or Senate contests. Voters held strong opinions.
"Now it is clear how Minnesotans feel on these very important public policy issues," Republican Sen. Dave Senjem, the Senate majority leader who won re-election, said. "I think that is a good thing."
Editor's note: Parts of this article are reprinted from the Rochester Post-Bulletin online articles about the election results.