PoliGraph: Entenza’s latest digs against Otto mislead


Coming to a mailbox near you: claims about DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto's record on voter ID.

This week, Otto's DFL challenger Matt Entenza once again argued that Otto favors a requirement that people who want to vote show a photo ID.

The charge comes in fliers sent to potential supporters in the upcoming Aug. 12 primary. And it comes despite a recent legal ruling that dismissed a formal complaint from Entenza's campaign about how Otto has portrayed her record on voter ID.

One of the fliers even cites MPR News, specifically a prior PoliGraph ruling on the issue. (The Entenza campaign did not ask for or receive permission to use MPR News content in its campaign materials)

The literature is also stamped with the phrase "Access Denied" over a picture of voting booths  --  and that's where it goes too far.

While PoliGraph agreed with Entenza in June that Otto did support an ID requirement to vote in 2003 when she served in the state House,  Entenza's latest fliers on the issue are misleading.

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The evidence

This issue is a controversial one, given the high-profile debate over a proposed constitutional amendment in 2012 that would have required people to show ID at the polls.

That amendment, which voters rejected, was broadly supported by Republicans, and is viewed negatively among Democrats.  That's exactly why Entenza has been using the issue to sway potential supporters in the upcoming primary.


MPR News' PoliGraph tackled the subject back in June, when Otto told a constituent on Facebook that she had never supported voter ID. Entenza's campaign said she had.

At the time, PoliGraph found that in 2003 Otto twice joined a handful of fellow DFLers voting in favor of language that would have required people to show ID at the polls.

But here's a critical point that Entenza's fliers misrepresent: The language Otto voted for in 2003 would not have barred people from voting if they didn't have identification.

By contrast, the 2012 constitutional amendment would have required voters without identification to prove their identify within a certain period of time to have their ballot counted.

It's that nuance that makes the Entenza's fliers ' claim of  "Access Denied" misleading.


Otto argues that the fliers are meant to suggest that she supported the 2012 constitutional amendment, which she campaigned against.

"This other bill way back in 2003 ... had language for photo ID that was never going to deny anybody access," she said.

Entenza concedes that there are key differences between the 2012 voter ID amendment and the language Otto voted for in 2003, even though his fliers don't point that out.

But he argues that the language Otto voted for in 2003 was controversial at the time because most Democrats viewed it as an effort to keep people less likely to have photo ID -- students, the elderly and minorities -- away from the polls. Entenza points out that he and most other Democrats voted against the language.

"If this bill had passed, word would have gone out to the general public that you've got to have an ID," Entenza said. "If there was an exception, some people would have known it, some people might not have known. There's no reason we should make voting tougher, and that's what these bills did."

Otto contends the bill she voted on in 2003 weren’t controversial in the way the 2012 voter ID constitutional amendment was.

And she doesn’t have much memory of those votes, given they were more than 10 years ago. That's one big reason Entenza's formal complaint accusing her of misrepresenting her position on Facebook was dismissed by a court panel.

The verdict

While Entenza is correct that Otto voted in 2003 for legislation that would have required people to show a photo ID before they could vote, his fliers go too far by saying that Otto's votes were for new rules that would have denied people access to polling places if they didn't have an ID.

In fact, the bill said people without IDs would be allowed to vote as long as they signed an affidavit stating their identity.

As a result, his fliers are misleading.