Contact your legislators this week to keep the early voting bill viable for this session.
(Published Mar 23, 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, it must be heard in the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee by March 27. The House bills that would establish early voting include HF 1981 (Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury) and HF 2036 (Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-Fridley). At least one of these bills need to be heard to be viable and move forward through the process, pursuant to legislative deadlines.
SF 414 (Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport) was heard in the Senate Subcommittee on Elections on Feb. 19. League staff shared a letter of support during the hearing (see related story). Co-authors of SF 414 include: Sens. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis), Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin), and Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan).
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.
Pass a resolution
Many cities of all sizes from around the state have already passed resolutions supporting early voting.
If your city passes the resolution, be sure to send a copy to your legislators and to League staff (email@example.com or to Heather Corcoran at 145 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN 55103).
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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