One Kingfield business taking a stand against two state constitutional amendments that its owner sees as bad moves for Minnesota.
Nestled in among the shops and restaurants at the corner of West 46th Street and Grand Avenue, the Colorwheel Gallery and Salon and its owner Tammy Ortegon have become hubs in a local effort to stop a proposed state constitutional amendment that would require voters to present a photo ID in order to cast their ballots.
"When you get your hair done, it's a moment when you can ask questions and talk about really personal stuff," Ortegon explained.
Just having literature arguing against the Voter ID amendment in view of customers sitting in her salon chair has spurred many conversations about the amendment that her customers might not have had, Ortegon added.
Ortegon's shop has also been ground zero for school board candidate Tracine Asberry's campaign. Asberry is running unopposed after her opponents dropped out of the race earlier this year, but she has been electioneering so hard she could fool a casual observer into thinking the Minneapois school board's Sixth District was a tight race. Asberry told Patch that this hectic pace is helping build relationships with voters throughout Southwest Minneapolis to keep her accessible to her future constituents. But campaigning against both the voter ID and marriage amendments has also become a core part of her stump speeches in front of PTAs and at community events across Southwest Minneapolis.
Like Ortegon's shop, Asberry's outreach efforts have formed but a small part in a larger push throughout Minnesota that's lowered support for Voter ID from 80 percent of likely voters in May 2012 to about 53 percent in October. Asberry creditied the work of groups like the Organizing Apprenticeship Project for that shift.
"The campaign has been very personal, very person-to-person," Asberry said. "Money is important for advertising, for lawn signs, but it's physical presence that is going to spur the conversations that change people's minds."
Ortegon and Asberry said voters they've spoken to are often swayed when they hear arguments about Voter ID's potential ability to restrict the rights of the elderly, members of the military, young voters, and the poor to vote. Opponents say the proposed amendment's system of provisional ballots, among other measures, will keep this problem from occurring. Ortegon said many people she talked to had not investigated the details of the amendment proposal.
"It's not so much changing people's minds as informing them," she said.
"My grandmother voted 'Yes.' It's practically the only right she has left—she's in a nursing home—and she really loves when she gets to fill out her absentee ballot," Ortegon explained. "During her birthday party, I brought over some more information about the amendment, and she was surprised it would affect her."
According to the latest poll, Voter ID is likely to pass in the Nov. 6 elections, but Ortegon, Asberry, and their fellow campaigners still have almost a week left to press their case and try to convert that 30-point reversal into an outright victory for their side.