Election Bills Heard in House and Senate

February 1, 2021

A Senate bill requiring voters to show photo IDs, and a House bill — the “Democracy for the People Act” —  were debated last week in contentious hearings.

After one of the most challenging elections cycle in modern history, the House and the Senate held their first 2021 hearings on elections legislation last week.

Senate bill

SF 173 (Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson) was heard on Jan. 27 in the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

The bill would require the use of photo identification to cast a ballot and if a voter does not have one, voter ID cards would be provided. Those unable to show photo identification would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

The committee passed the bill on a party-line vote of 5-3 and sent it to the Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. The House companion, HF 293 (Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe), has not received a hearing.

House bill

In the House, HF 9 (Rep. Emma Greenman, DFL-Minneapolis) was heard in the State Government Finance and Elections Committee on Jan. 28.

Dubbed the “Democracy for the People Act,” the bill would:

  • Restore voting rights to those convicted of a felony upon release from incarceration.
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.
  • Allow voters to join a permanent absentee voter list for automatic delivery of an absentee ballot.
  • Allow the counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day for up to seven days.
  • Establish an early voting system to be administered beginning 30 days before an election.

Debate and discussion on the bill extended into a second committee hearing on Jan. 29. The committee passed the bill on a party-line vote of 8-5 and referred it to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

The Senate companion, SF 422 (Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville) has not received a hearing.

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