Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BSU students look at Bemidji's recall amendment

In the next couple of week we'll be hearing from Mass Communication students from Valica Boudry's News Reporting Class.  This morning we had updates and information on the proposed constitutionals amendments that you'll see on your ballots as well as Bemidji city recall amendment. Here's info on city of Bemidji's recall amendmendment.  

Recall Amendment

By Danielle Carty

How did this charter come about?
The town of Bemidji is run under a charter, which means we are run under a weak mayor strong management. The people secure the benefits of home rule and affirm the values of representative democracy. There are 8 charter commissioners that are residents of Bemidji that at least have to meet annually, which is in June. The commissioners try to meet the needs of the people. They researched and looked into the recall amendment that rochester has and they believed it would be beneficially to the people.

What is the recall amendment?
The recall amendment provides the recall procedure to remove an elective municipal official for malfeasance or nonfeasance. Which means they are either not doing their job as an official, or they have any unlawful or wrongful conduct that affects, interrupts or interferes with the performance of official duties.

How does the recall amendment work?
Any five registered voters qualified to vote for a successor of the office may form into a committee for the purpose of bringing about the recall of such elective official. The committee shall initiate a petition stating the grounds for removal. The petition, when complete, shall have been signed by registered voters qualified to vote for a successor of the office equal in number to twenty percent of those who voted for the office in the last election. The completed recall petition is then filed with the City Clerk, who thereafter shall determine if the petition is sufficient, the petition shall be submitted to the City Council which shall call for an election of the voters to determine if the alleged actions or omissions constituting malfeasance or nonfeasance is sufficient cause for the elective official's removal from office. If the official is the Mayor, or council member-at-large, the election shall be city-wide. If the official is a ward council-member, it shall be limited to the particular ward.

What happens if the voter doesn’t select yes or no?
The vote is not counted then, it is not like the state amendment where if you leave it blank it counts as no. It does not get counted.
Does this amendment have to do with the Rental Ordinance?
No, this recall amendment has been looked into and thought about by the charter commission for at least three years, this has no correlation to the start of the recall amendment.

How long does it take for the recall to be processed?
The completed recall petition papers hall be filed in the office of the city clerk within thirty days of the filing of the initial recall proposal. Within thirty days of filing of the peition, the city clerk determines if the voters are registered, and valid, and that the petition is legitimate. The petition is sent from the clerk to the council. The council, at it’s next meeting, fixes a date for the holding of a special recall election no less than thirty no more than forty-five days thereafter. The recall election shall be city-wide if the officer is the mayor or council member at large, and shall be limited to a particular ward if the officer is a ward council member. The officer will be removed and the office will be vacant, if a majority of the votes cast on the question be in favor of the recall of said officer, said officer shall be removed and the council shall thereupon declare a vacancy to exist. Unless the officer whose removal is sought shall have resigned within ten days after the receipt by the council of the completed recall petition, the form of the ballot quesiton will read, “Shall ____________be recalled from the office of _______? Then it will be followed with yes or no?

The ordinance will become effective ninety days after its passage and publication according to law.
How long does the official have to be in office in  order to be recalled?
No removal petition shall be filed against any officer until the officer has actually held office for at least six months.

Can an official be put back into office after recall?
No person who has been removed from office by recall, or has resigned from office after the filing of a recall petition, shall be appointed to any office under this Charter within one year after such recall or resignation.
Will there be information on the ballot about the recall amendment?
Yes, there will be a definition of malfeasance and nonfeasance and a short summary of how the recall process works.

BSU students look at Voter ID Question

In the next couple of week we'll be hearing from Mass Communication students from Valica Boudry's News Reporting Class.  This morning we had updates and information on the proposed constitutionals amendments that you'll see on your ballots as well as Bemidji city recall amendment. Here's info on the Voter ID amendment. 
Minnesota’s Voter ID Question
By Arne Mostad-Jensen
On Nov. 6 Minnesotans will be asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on the question “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?” The wording of the amendment itself, included at the end of this article, contains further provisions not indicated in the ballot question.
Opponents of the amendment claim that voter fraud, already against the law in Minnesota, is far too infrequent to warrant a constitutional amendment and suggest that it could actually end up disenfranchising legal voters. Amendment supporters argue that even a few fraudulent votes could decide a close election at any level of government and claim that a voter ID requirement would help to prevent this.
A comprehensive database of voter fraud cases nationwide since 2000 compiled by News21, a cornerstone program of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, reveals only 10 cases of voter impersonation fraud—the type of fraud that voter ID is designed to prevent—nationally in that period. They note that the cases of voter fraud from the 2008 election cited by amendment supporters involved illegally voting felons who would not have been prevented from voting by an ID requirement.
Supporters of the amendment also cite anecdotal evidence to suggest that many cases of voter fraud go unreported and claim that a voter ID requirement would not only help prevent actual fraud but would reduce the public’s perception that the election system is susceptible to fraud.
Opponents argue that expenses associated with obtaining an ID, such as travel costs and having to pay for a birth certificate to establish identity, would inhibit limited-income citizens from voting. They argue that the ID requirement would essentially amount to a poll tax, which is prohibited by the Twenty-fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, which opposes the amendment, estimates that implementing the amendment would collectively cost individuals without IDs between $16 million and $72 million and would cost state and local governments between $36 million and $78 million. Center of the American Experiment, which supports the amendment, estimates that providing free voter IDs for the first general election after its implementation would cost the state as little as $2.9 million and would decline in cost for subsequent elections.
Opponents further argue that the amendment is unclear regarding what would constitute “valid government-issued photo identification.” They say the amendment does not specify whether military IDs, tribal IDs or college IDs would be accepted as valid forms of identification. Amendment supporters claim that previously existing laws make it impossible to disenfranchise military or Native American voters but say that even state-college-issued IDs might not be accepted.
Amendment supporters say that voters without IDs would still be able to fill out a provisional ballot on Election Day and provide a valid ID afterwards to ensure that their vote would be counted. Opponents say the amendment is unclear on how exactly this would work and suggest it would create a situation ripe for litigation.
Amendment opponents also warn that the amendment is unclear regarding what would constitute “substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification” for absentee voters. Amendment supporters suggest that absentee voters would simply have to include their ID number on their absentee ballot signature envelope and possibly show their ID to a witness. Opponents say this would not constitute substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification and would unfairly establish two sets of voting standards.
Finally, opponents note that if the amendment is passed the specifics of how it would be implemented would still have to be finalized by Minnesota’s next legislature, which would likely interpret its requirements quite differently depending on which party emerges as dominant after the election, and that they could end up being decided in the courts.
The proposed amendment outlines the voter ID requirements that it would enact as follows:
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.
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.

Northern Community Radio works with BSU's Mass Communications Department

In the next couple of week we'll be hearing from Mass Communication students from Valica Boudry's News Reporting Class.  This morning we had updates and information on the proposed constitutionals amendments that you'll see on your ballots as well as Bemidji city recall amendment.  Here's Marina Lang's report on the proposed marriage amendment to the MN Constitution.

Minnesotans who visit the polls this November will find themselves with a question regarding limiting marriage to opposite sex couples. It will be something along the lines of:

Recognition of marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

The options are yes or no.

If this amendment passes, it would be added to the Minnesota Constitution and would, for the time being, make it so that only the union of one man and one woman will be recognized as a marriage in Minnesota. This would be semi permanent prevention of same-sex couples from being legally married in the state of Minnesota, until a time when a federal decision was made, one way or another.

This amendment would give a definition to marriage in the State Constitution if it passes. People supporting this amendment hope for reinforcement of recognition of marriage as between opposite-sex couples. Some supporters believe that if marriage were not defined as between one man and one woman, historic meaning and value of marriage may be lost, and marriage may become a “meaningless political gesture, rather than a child-affirming social construct.” (

If this amendment fails, same-sex marriage does not become legal. Many people opposed to this amendment hope that marriage will not become defined as between one man and one woman so that there is opportunity to later vote for marriage to become legal between same-sex couples. In the long run, same-sex couples hope for rights that legally are only available to opposite-sex couples at this time, through marriage.(

There is always a long process before a proposed amendment is seen on a ballot- the Minnesota Legislature introduced bills proposing this same-sex marriage amendment and had it approved by both the Minnesota State Senate and State House.

If the amendment passes, Minnesota will have a definition of marriage in the State Constitution, which would make same-sex marriage impossible for now. If not passed, some believe the sanctity of the marriage institution is at stake. A lot of time went into getting this amendment on the ballot and whatever the results, many Minnesotans will be personally affected.