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Come Saturday Morning: Minnesota’s ALEC-Inspired “Chaos Amendment” – Paid for by Wells Fargo, US Bank and TCF

Even as Texas and Wisconsin Republicans see their versions of ALEC’s voter ID model bill run into constitutional problems, Minnesota’s Republicans — who wafted into office on a magic carpet propelled in large part by cash from corporate voter ID backers — are prepared to flout that part of the state constitution that guarantees the right to vote. As Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat who vetoed last year’s GOP efforts to push the ALEC Voter ID Bill but whose hands are tied this year because ballot amendments can’t be vetoed, says:

“This is a partisan amendment based on a false premise that voter fraud is a significant problem in Minnesota. Our election system is the best in the nation. We have the highest voter turnout year after year and under intense, bipartisan scrutiny, the recent statewide recounts have highlighted how reliable the results are. Much of the strength of the system derives from over 150 years of bipartisan work and its federated nature – the 87 county auditors, hundreds of municipal clerks, and 30,000 volunteer election judges who administer Minnesota’s elections and ensure they are free and fair.

“Republicans in the legislature had two years to negotiate bipartisan reforms to election law, and it is disappointing that their failure to do so has led to an unnecessary constitutional amendment that would make it harder for law abiding citizens, including tens of thousands of seniors, service members, and students, to exercise their right to vote. I cannot support a constitutional amendment that is pushed through the legislative process by only one political party – and neither should Minnesotans if they see it on the ballot this fall.”

The massive problems with the Minnesota version of ALEC’s Voter ID push have already been chronicled at FDL. But it might be nice to see whose money is behind the looming disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of state citizens — and Take Action Minnesota shows us this in a special report:

This report, “The 1% vs. Democracy in Minnesota” follows the money behind the effort to restrict voting rights in Minnesota through a constitutional photo ID amendment that would make voting—our most fundamental constitutional right—more difficult, and in some cases, impossible for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding eligible voters.

The report finds that executives from Minnesota’s three largest banks—Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and TCF—led and funded a series of inter-related campaign entities that were instrumental in the Republican takeover of the Legislature that put members of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) in the House leadership and placed an attack on the voting rights of Minnesotans at the
top of the 2012 legislative agenda.

How much did the banks spend? This much:

• Jon Campbell, executive vice president at Wells Fargo, chairs the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobby association in the state. Richard Davis, president of U.S. Bank, is president of the Minnesota Business Partnership, the third-largest lobby association. Together, they established Minnesota Forward. Along with the Minnesota Bankers Association and seven
other employer groups, the Chamber and the Business Partnership make up the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses.

• These networks of banker-led and funded groups spent:
o almost $500,000 to elect 25 new Republican legislators in 2008 and 2010;
o more than $375,000 for 21 legislators pushing the voter ID amendments; and
o $180,000 on the campaigns of 14 ALEC members.

• These organizations also put almost $100,000 into the campaigns of House Speaker Kurt Zellers
and House Majority Leader Matt Dean. Both Zellers and Dean are ALEC members, and both are
sponsors of an ALEC-model bill, HF 1597, that would amend the state’s constitution to require
people to show photo identification in order to vote.

As the TAM report makes clear, the ALEC-based voter ID bills that have been pushed nationwide as well as in Minnesota are all about suppressing the votes of those folks Republicans figure won’t vote for Republicans — such as twentysomethings and black people:

• New Hampshire Speaker William O’Brien told a tea party group that he wanted to make it more difficult for students to vote. Kids coming out of school, he said, do “what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do; they don’t have life experience and they just vote their feelings.”

• The chief sponsor of Georgia’s voter ID legislation told the Justice Department the bill would keep more African Americans from voting, which was fine with her since “if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud.”

Gee, such informed comments. Not.

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