15-Minute Advocate: Action Needed on Early Voting

Contact your legislators to keep the early voting bill viable for this session.
(Published Mar 23, 2015)

(Updated Apr 14, 2015)

1. Get Informed
Many Minnesotans consider the current in-person absentee voting system “early voting,” but there are significant administrative differences between the two voting systems. After the voter has completed an absentee ballot, it is placed in a sealed envelope to be processed by elections administrators after the voter has left.

Early voting allows the in-person voter the same experience as voting in their polling place on Election Day by inserting the ballot into a ballot tabulator. If necessary, the voter is then able to correct mistakes made by the voter when marking the ballot such as party cross-over voting in a primary election or over-voting. These mistakes can be discovered by the ballot tabulator, the same as on Election Day. Election results are not known until the polls close on Election Day.

Additionally, no-excuse absentee voting has led to a significant increase in in-person absentee balloting. This forces cities that administer in-person absentee balloting to operate city halls as polling places beginning 46 days before Election Day, but the absentee ballots cannot be processed until seven days before Election Day. An early voting system eliminates many of the administrative costs of the current absentee ballot procedures. Many states have implemented actual early voting procedures for in-person voting and found them to be a cost-effective and efficient method to serve the voters.

For early voting to pass this year, cities should continue to contact their legislators in the House. The House bills that would establish early voting include HF 1981 (Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury) and HF 2036 (Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-Fridley).

SF 455 (Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport) is the Senate elections omnibus bill. It includes early voting and is awaiting action on the Senate floor.

The bill would establish early voting 15 days prior to Election Day through 5 p.m. on the third day before the election. Pending certification of statewide systems and voting equipment to administer early voting by the secretary of state, the law would be effective for elections held on or after Aug. 1, 2015.

Passing early voting this legislative session is necessary to ensure the system is ready for the 2016 general election. Please note: If your city does not currently administer absentee balloting, you will not be required to administer early voting.

The League supports the establishment of a true early voting system (see SD-64 in the 2015 City Policies (pdf)). The League’s Board of Director’s adopted this issue as one of its 2015 legislative priorities.

2. Take Action
Contact your legislator
City officials and staff are strongly encouraged to contact their legislators this week to ask for their support for early voting. If possible, cities are encouraged to pass resolutions supporting early voting.

Access information about how to contact your legislators

Talking Points

  • Share with your legislators input from your city clerk and/or elections administrators about the difference between in-person absentee balloting and a true early voting system, including:
    • The impact that the existing system has on voters’ experience when submitting a no-excuse absentee ballot in person to be processed after the voter has left. With early voting, the voter puts the ballot into the tabulator and can correct any voter errors if needed.
    • How a true early voting system would make the process more efficient for both the voters and administrators.
    • Passing early voting this legislative session is necessary to ensure the system is ready for the 2016 general election.
  • Use the League’s letter in support of early voting (pdf) and the League’s one-pager on early voting (pdf) for additional talking points.

Pass a resolution
Many cities of all sizes from around the state have already passed resolutions supporting early voting.

View the list and map of cities (pdf)

If your city passes the resolution, be sure to send a copy to your legislators and to League staff (liaison@lmc.org or to Heather Corcoran at 145 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN 55103).

View the model resolution available to cities (doc)

3. Stay Involved
Continue to inform and communicate with your representatives and senators to support early voting passage this session. Be sure to let League staff know when you’ve contacted your legislators, passed resolutions, and if legislators have questions that League staff can follow up on.

Stay up to date on this legislation and others by following League staff on Twitter (access IGR staff Twitter handles), subscribing to Capitol Updates, and responding to action alert messages sent by League staff.

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