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Our View: Vote Romney, oppose 'voter ID'

The presidency is the ultimate job test. Do a good job in the first term and Americans usually will reward a president by re-electing him to a second. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has made a convincing case that President Barack Obama has not earned a second term. More importantly, Romney has emerged as a competent, qualified challenger who clearly is up to the job of returning the nation to pre-recession prosperity, job creation and restored status on the world stage.

Obama inherited an economic mess not of his making. The collapse that was under way when he took office nearly four years ago had its genesis during the administration of President George W. Bush. But that was more than four years ago. Since then, the president has presided over a recovery from recession that is the slowest in modern times. He can try to blame the situation on his predecessor, but that argument no longer has credibility.

Romney has resumés from the private sector and from government that underscore his success and confirm his ability. Unlike the lunatics on the tea-party right, Romney grasps the value of a proper balance between government and the private sector. He's lived it all his life. His accomplishments in state government, as an Olympics executive and in business reveal a world view that is based in experience, compromise, risk-taking and extraordinary successes.

Obama promised a "post-partisan" presidency. While he faced a hostile Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, he did little to moderate the hostility. He failed to build relationships and alliances with key Democrats in Congress. He tried to ram his agenda down their throats without the consultation even Democrats demand of their president. When he was successful with his signature accomplishment - the byzantine Affordable Care Act - his support in the country eroded.

Neither candidate has provided sufficient details about how he would reduce the debt and deficit, where he would cut military and entitlement spending, or how he would confront foreign crises. That is not a surprise because the campaigns are ready to pounce on details. So don't expect any.

But the nation desperately needs restoration of economic confidence, stability and predictability. The Obama agenda has offered the opposite, and the result is economic doldrums.

Romney has a history of accomplishment, even in the face of political opposition (in Democratic Massachusetts). If he wins, he likely will have to work with a Democratic majority in the Senate and a somewhat smaller Republican majority in the House. He is equipped by political ideology and experience to do it.

Obama promised hope and change. He's delivered malaise. Romney promises he'll make the hard choices to steady the nation's listing economic ship. He has a history of getting big jobs done.

Americans need new leadership in the White House. Romney is the right man at the right time.

Voter ID raises too many questions for a 'yes'

Requiring citizens to show identification when they cast their ballots makes some sense. You have to show ID to do just about anything of importance these days, so why not when you vote?

The problem is that the proposed voter ID amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is the wrong way to go about addressing the primary concern: election fraud.

Constitutions are the framework of free and representative government; they offer guiding principles to help ensure our rulers don't trample on our personal rights and liberties. The Minnesota Constitution already ensures that eligible voters have a right to vote and the freedom to do so.

Changes to a constitution should be rare and made under special circumstances, especially to protect our rights. Minnesotans have followed that path since adopting their Constitution in 1857.

There's nothing rare or special about voter ID. The matter more appropriately belongs before the Legislature for careful deliberation and decision.

There's the rub. Republicans couldn't get a voter ID law past the governor's office, so they resorted to placing the matter of the ballot as a constitutional amendment.

That brings us to the second problem with this measure: Lawmakers did a lousy job wording the voter ID amendment.

The ballot question seems fairly above board:

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Don't let the simplicity fool you. The actual language of the amendment isn't on the ballot, and we see considerable expense plus major legislative and court battles ahead if Minnesota Constitution Article VII is amended to include:

(b) All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. The state must issue photographic identification at no charge to an eligible voter who does not have a form of identification meeting the requirements of this section. A voter unable to present government-issued photographic identification must be permitted to submit a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot must only be counted if the voter certifies the provisional ballot in the manner provided by law.

(c) All voters, including those not voting in person, must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted.

The proposed amendment raises way too many questions. They include:

What qualifies for a government-issued ID? Tribal ID, state college ID or city/county/school badge? We have lots of official governments, including townships.

The state would pay for IDs, but how would voters who don't have IDs prove they are eligible and therefore qualify?

How long would provisional ballots be held -- 24 hours, 72 hours, a week -- and still be counted? How long might this delay election results? How many costly recounts might taxpayers face?

How do absentee voters, particularly those in the military, show IDs? The last thing on someone's mind during deployment is heading to the courthouse or city hall or schoolhouse to register in case an election occurs while the individual defends people's rights to vote at home.

The list of questions goes on.

We have no confidence that Legislature is up to the task of addressing these questions by July 1, 2013.

Oh yes, the amendment language continues with Section 2:

(a) The proposed amendment must be submitted to the people at the 2012 general election. If approved, the amendment is effective July 1, 2013, for all voting at elections scheduled to be conducted November 5, 2013, and thereafter.

Citizens -- even those who champion voter ID -- should reject this poorly framed amendment. Minnesotans deserve more from their lawmakers and from their Constitution.

This endorsement reflects the opinion of Forum Communications Co.

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