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I documented the cost estimates for the Republican’s vaguely defined constitutional amendment to change how we vote. They call it “Voter ID.” I call it vote suppression. Others call it vote restriction.

Regardless of the title, its going to be expensive to implement. There are many variables. So many that the Minneapolis Elections Department declined to guess at a price. Ramsey County suggested it would cost around $175 million for them to implement it.

Goodhue County (SE MN) and Hubbard County (north central) are worried. Sally Jo Sorenson at Bluestem Prairie documented their worries.

The election staff for Goodhue County wanted voters to understand all of the implications of the restrictions: absentee balloting ends, same-day registration ends and potentially 215,000 Minnesotans face difficulties getting valid IDs.

Hubbard County officials are very concerned about cost:

Minnesota’s proposed Voter ID law, which recent polls suggest could pass handily, will have unintended consequences and unanticipated costs for Hubbard County.

“I think they’re going to be astonished at what this could cost us,” Auditor-Treasurer Pam Heeren said, admitting, “there’s so many unknowns it’s hard for us to put a price on it.”

But its probably a guest post at BSP by Max Halperin, professor at Gustavus Adolphus, that should scare every City Council Member and County Commissioner statewide.

Halperin debunks claims by the Center for the American Experiment that “Voter ID” would reduce election costs:

This report downplays the financial costs of the proposed amendment, but its most provocative claim is that “substantial cost savings accrue when photo ID is coupled with electronic poll book technology.”  Specifically, in return for an estimated initial investment of $5 million, a cost savings of approximately $1 million per general election could be realized.  

Both of these estimates have substantial problems, but even if we accept the numbers, the idea that the proposed amendment could be a net win from a financial standpoint falters on two fundamental problems.  First, the projected savings would be possible even without a photo ID requirement.  Second, the initial investment is in fact a recurring cost that would be necessary each time the laptop computers reached the end of their useful lives.

When you combine Halperin’s analysis with the analysis at MinnPost, I don’t see how anyone can argue this amendment will save money.

They will of course, but Republicans rarely if ever let facts get in their way.

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As can be expected, Doug Grow gets it wrong again. A 100% Obama preferential vote is not guaranteed nor is it expected. I expect that Doug Grow is merely being a stenographer for Republican talking points again. In Minnesota, “Uncommitted” is valued vote. Indeed the traditional hold-out votes in any national endorsement tends to come from Minnesota. Just to hold the president accountable, you can expect that at least some of the DFL will vote “Uncommitted.” Either Doug Grow just means to set up impossible false expectations here or he really does not understand that “Uncommitted” is a valid vote. Here is the quote:

DFLers will be voting 100 percent for President Barack Obama.
(Doug Grow at MinnPost)

The presidential votes will be used as input to help determine the number of “Obama” and “Uncommitted” delegates to the national convention. The actual delegates will be elected by congressional and state conventions. The Minnesota DFL preserves the rights of minority through proportional representation, which means if there are enough “Uncommitted” votes to have even a single delegate, then “Uncommitted” will be represented. So every possible write-in candidate has representation through “Uncommitted.”

I attempted to post this correction as a comment on the actual MinnPost article, it has not yet been approved. Update, the comment is now accepted.


Today the right wing group Minnesotans for Marriage released a video to support their push to pass the Sanctity of Marriage amendment. As we all know, gays wanting to get married caused Sen. Amy Koch to commit adultery with an unnamed Senate staffer that just has to be Michael Brodkorb. Because of the damage that even the threat of gay mariage poses to we heteros, they want to amend our state’s constitution to make sure that our LGBT friends cannot get married in MN. They will be spending millions upon millions in the state to get this passed.

The beginning of the video is chock full of stock images of happy hetero couples.  My question is: where are the real Minnesotans?

With all the money y’all have from the Mormons and evangelicals and other homophobes across the country, can’t you afford to find some Minnesotans to appear in your vid? Or is it that hard to find any of us willing to appear in your vids?


When Jacob and Michelle Frey heard that the Republicans at the state legislature were going to put a measure on the ballot to define marriage as between one man and one woman, they were outraged.  They wanted to do something to help in the fight to defeat changing our constitution to include discrimination.  

“My wife and I were both professional distance runners,” explained Jacob.  “So we settled on staging a race.  So that’s how the Big Gay Race came into being.”

Big Gay Race
October 15, 2011
Start time 9:00AM
St. Anthony Main
$30 registration fee ($35 on the race day)

The Big Gay Race will start at Wilde Roast’s restaurant in St. Anthony Main, head downstream along the Mississippi River, cross at the Stone Arch Bridge then head upstream along the other side of the river until Plymouth Ave.  Runners will then turn around and head back along the same route the came.

Plans were originally to cross the Plymouth Ave. bridge, but it was rather expensive to move the barriers and allow runners onto the bridge.

The views along this route should be spectacular because of the skyline and colors.

Not only will this raise awareness of the campaign, all proceeds will go to the campaign to stop the ballot measure from succeeding.  A number of sponsors have already lined up to support the race.


One of the best aspects of the campaign to prevent marriage discrimination from getting enshrined into Minnesota’s constitution, is everyone is getting involved.  Progressives, labor and faith are communities that often overlap in MN.  So it’s great to see that the faith community is pulling together to stop this nonsense.

More than 550 people of faith gathered at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church Monday to learn more about organizing against a faith-based opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Organizers for the meeting say people of faith have been sidelined in past efforts to defeat such amendments, with campaigns opting to keep religion out of the discussion. But in Minnesota’s debate, they plan to have religious leaders front and center.

Javen Swanson, a member of Outfront Minnesota’s Faith Organizing Workgroup, said they initially had planned for a smaller group.

“When we started planning the faith organizing kickoff about six weeks ago, we thought it would be great if we could get 250 people there,” he told the Minnesota Independent. “As it turns out, around 550 people showed up and packed the sanctuary.”

Now is the best time to get involved.  The earlier the better.


Minnesotans United for All Families announced on Friday that Richard Carlbom will be the Campaign Manager.  MUAF is a broad coalition of organizations opposed to the marriage discrimination ballot measure Republicans at the legislature put on the 2012 ballot.  The campaign is sure to get loud and ugly judging by other state’s experiences.

Carlbom ran Rep. Tim Walz’s 2010 campaign and leaves St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s staff where he was the Communications Director.  He also served on Walz campaign staff as Fundraising and Political Director prior to assume the CM job.

Read an interview with Carlbom here.

Republicans and their funders like the Koch Brothers realize that gay marriage is a great way to get the conservative base out to vote.  The Mormons, the christian evangelicals and other members of the American Taliban want to push their agenda of hatred and homophobia on Minnesota and will pour millions upon millions of dollars into this campaign.  After Rep. Michele Bachmann drops out of the presidential campaign, she’ll lead the charge to enshrine marriage discrimination into our state’s constitution.  

Considering the margins by which Obama and Klobuchar carry this state, this ballot measure is key to their 2012 strategy for retaining the legislature and they will throw everything they have into it.

There is no better time than the present to donate and volunteer for this campaign.

Below the fold, a bunch of people will tell you how awesome Carlbom is …
From the MUAF press release:

Senator Scott Dibble (D-Minneapolis) and Representative Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing) both participated in the hiring process, and praised Carlbom.  Dibble said, “I know that Richard Carlbom is the individual who can lead us to victory.  His work ethic is excellent, and his intelligence and insight inspire confidence.”  Rep Kelly stated, “Mr. Carlbom is a fantastic choice. From my perspective, this issue is not one of partisanship but rather, one of individual freedom and choice. Richard has the ability to bring this message to all Minnesotans in a clear, concise manner, and I look forward to being a part of that effort. “

“We are thrilled to welcome Richard Carlbom to lead the Minnesotans United campaign,” said Ann Kaner-Roth, Executive Director of Project 515, one of the founding organizations of the coalition.  Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota, another founding organization, stated, “Richard comes to us with broad campaign experience and a track record of working across political spectrums.  We are fortunate to have someone of his caliber.”

“I am honored to lead this incredibly broad and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals. We will defeat this amendment by remaining united and focused on victory in 2012,” said Richard Carlbom.

Also praising the selection of Carlbom was Tom Knabel, MD, a member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, who stated, “Richard has important experience in greater Minnesota as well as the metro area, and we’re anxious to draw on his relationships across the state as we move forward in our campaign.”


Sen. Bonoff on anti-gay amendment

by JeffStrate on May 14, 2011 · 0 comments

Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL Senate District 43) writes in today’s edition of her Capitol Update newsletter, in part, about her opposition to the Senate Bill to amend the Minnesota Constitution by adding a definition of marriage to it:

Marriage Amendment Passes off Senate Floor
The constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was heard on the Senate floor this week. The bill proposes to amend the Minnesota Constitution to recognize marriage as only between one man and one woman.

I am both frustrated and saddened by this ill-timed effort. I am frustrated that we would use one of the last two weeks of the legislative session to debate a controversial social issue that ultimately serves to marginalize one group of people and divide our state. I shared my views on the Senate floor.

The constitutional amendment proposal passed the Senate and awaits further action by the House. If both bodies of the legislature approve the proposal, the amendment question will go on the 2012 general election ballot.

Senator Bonoff provided the following link to her compelling story about her life experience of having a brother who is gay:…


Primary Absentee Balloting Breaks Previous Record

by JacobGrippen on August 8, 2010 · 0 comments

You may have noticed an AP article quoted from the Winona Daily News in Tony’s post earlier Saturday about primary turn out.


Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said elections officials had accepted 21,703 absentee ballots as of this [Friday] morning. Absentee voting continues on Saturday and Monday.

At a house party this evening I had a chance to hear Secretary of State Mark Ritchie speak about why he’s running for re-election, and about the things that his office does, and how as the State Election Official he and his staff and the 87 counties oversee Minnesota’s voting process.

He said that he received notice from his office that by early Saturday, the number of absentee ballots received was in the 25,700 range.

That number breaks the previous record from 1998 for absentee ballots cast in a primary election. That number was 25,257…

So, there’s another clue into what turn out may or may not look like on Tuesday.

You can absentee vote on Monday (most government centers/absentee voting locations should have extended hours on Monday), and ballots can still come in via postal service on Tuesday.

Who knows how high the number of absentee ballots will be, perhaps 28,000?

Who knows?


Minnesota Recount Quick Facts – You Be the Election Judge

by Matthew Wintergarden on December 3, 2008 · 1 comment

Hello, I’m Matthew Wintergarden, and I write for the Degausser, a new political blog that aims to add to the “538” wing of the Progressive Project.  I was recently given the honor of being asked to post my diary regarding the Challenged Ballots in the Minnesota Senate Race.

A month ago, my colleague Allan Springvale spoke of the Coleman-Franken race as the most competitive in the country.

Who was ahead before the recount began?

day 1

Norm Coleman led Al Franken by 215 before the first day of the recount. After all the oddities of this race, the fact that exactly 50,000 voters skipped the Senate race is not a surprise. Of course, we have no idea how many Senate voters decided to skip the Presidential race (or if anyone skipped both races).

The twin towers of MN Blue and the MN Progressive Project have offered a sound resource for keeping up with the recounts. As Paul Westerberg (likely did not) say, “It’s all over but the counting.” The counting of challenged ballots, that is…

So what determines where a challenged ballot will fall? How do we determine voter intent? And what makes our electoral method far superior to the Florida 2000 faceplant of democracy’s failure?

A guide follows:

A primer on the rules for determination of Voter Intent

These votes would all be counted for Jack Shepard, Coleman’s primary opponent:

1. The Shaq Free-throw ………………..2. Circle gets the Square

0 intent yes.5

3. “Shoeless Joe’s signature”………………4. The Oval Office

0 intent yest.6

5. When the voter employs multiple methods of marking their vote, but only chooses one candidate for office, the mark is counted as a vote:

0 intent yes2

6 and 7. If a voter makes it fairly obvious that they decided to change their vote, such as an erasure or cross-out, then the remaining non-altered vote is counted. In this example, “Darryl Stanton”, whomever the Sam Hill that is, would receive these votes).

0 intent yes3

8. This also stands for write-ins – Robert “Build a 50-foot wall, I’ll find you a 51-foot ladder” Fitzgerald would receive this vote (he’s right, by the way).

0 intent yes4

Another note – a ballot cannot be rejected if it is slightly soiled or defaced. So if some fool spilled bourbon, or even worse, vomited upon his absentee ballot, it will still be counted. Dude, I know it helps deal with the disappointment of Aerosmith’s post-1970s output, but it’s a bad idea to do a shot for each unopposed judicial candidate.

Here’s what to do if you DON’T want your vote counted:

1. Marking multiple candidates. This also goes for filling the bubble for one candidate, and placing an “X” next to another candidate for the same office. Electoral Bigamy has been disallowed since the Second Manifesto in 1904.

0 intent no1

2. Placing a name, initial, or any other identification mark upon the ballot. Voting is like Pictionary – you can illustrate, but the Phoenician alphabet is verboten (I am not aware of any rules against using Cyrillic or Kanji).

0 intent no2

Now that you are armed with that knowledge, would you be able to determine the voter intent from these actual 2008 Senate ballots? Than Tibbetts of Minnesota Public Radio has asked us to make the call, and feel free to do so in the comments:

1. “I cut the head off the Devil and I throw it at you”


Some claim that what we see is an arrow pointing to Coleman. I see a dripping pen targeted at Franken, with a speck in Niemackl and a coincidental sideways Chevron logo for Coleman, an obvious allusion to his oil company pandering.

2. The Horsehead Nebula


This matches the reasoning above in Intent #8 on the yes side. John McCain, dusting himself off after Matt Taibbi’s latest, would be awarded this vote.

3. “And heeere’s the pitch from Rick Vaughn….Juuuuuust a bit outside!”


Franken would have areally difficult time claiming this vote. Hell, it almost looks like our voter took the whole Pictionary Corollary a bit too seriously – did the card say “Lizard Head” or “Hand Shadow”?

4. The House of Yes


Here’s the dilemma – do we claim that this is an example of Intent Rule 6 and 7, where they are indicating that their first mark was not their preferred vote, or is it an example of No #2, where identification marks, such as initials, were placed upon the ballot, disqualifying the entire entity? The vote will be decided by the interpretation of the marks around Coleman’s bubble.

5. “You know Joel, every now and then, you just got to say WTF”?


After Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey checked into the Big House, Minnesota’s vast untapped Vampyre Vote was left hanging, like from a cave or something. I’m afraid Al was crossed out for a write-in here – serious Risky Business. And yes, I am just as amazed as you are that this person actually spelled both words correctly. Although this pales compared to Tom DeLay’s 2006 ballot replacement.

Somewhere in our fair state, there is some guy claiming that he was the “Lizard People” voter, and perhaps its being used for nefarious purposes. I would bet dollars to donuts that this douche-nozzle has already tried this line on half the cougars at his interstate-exit Applebee’s.

6. Dirty Dancing


Sometimes you have to wonder if someone did this just to be difficult? There are two marks in the neighborhood of Franken, but do they fall within the Intent #5? Each black box corresponds with a name on the list. This may be the hardest of them all.

7. Vote early and often


This meets No Rule #1, so it would get thrown out. Unless the Franken mark can be proven to be some errant ink, rather than a attempt at a vote. Perhaps if all other Repubs were chosen in other offices, you could give it to Norm.

What scares me the most is that some poor voter accidentally severed their finger, and was forced to leave it on the ballot. Ouch!

8. The Dippin’ Dots – Electoral Style of the Future


This one’s pretty obvious – an errant dot dropped in the Barkley oval, corrected by some furious pro-Franken bubble-darkening. Of course, it would help if the voter wasn’t provided a blurry ballot.

And another thing – Dippin’ Dots has been advertising itself as “Ice Cream of the Future” for almost two decades. when does it become “Ice Cream of the Present”?

9. You’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, and dog-gone it, people do not like you


A stunning rebuke of your daily affirmation, Al.
Some sadist really wanted it to hurt just THAT MUCH MORE!

10. Political Bigamy, Hefner-style


While it is most likely a vote for Dean Barkley, this drunkard thought about Coleman, but got distracted by the totally rad possibility of turning “FRANKEN” into the logo for…


11. Jimmy Tango says “Ride the Snake!”


Clearly a hissing at Franken – Coleman gets this one. But why does it look more like a tadpole than a cross-out? Is anyone here a marine biologist?

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