On Monday, February 18th, the Senate Elections Committee chaired by Senator Katie Sieben (D-54) will hear 3 election reform bills, all authored by Senator Kent Eken (D-04), the committee’s vice-chair.
One pertains to new financial disclosure requirements for elected officials, but the other two contain a number of further erosions to Minnesota’s already lax election system.
SF 332 will expand the use of mail-in balloting beyond the small townships of under 400 voters that are currently allowed to use that system. Voting by mail is by it’s nature, less secure than in-person voting, so efforts to expand that rarely used system will further loosen the integrity of the system.
SF 498 contains numerous changes. Many are harmless, but some items slipped in between a plethora of purely technical languages changes in the lengthy bill are cause for serious concern, such as:
• Removing the current responsibility of the secretary of state to check the voter rolls for deceased people, making that integrity measure optional instead of mandatory.
• Eliminating the requirement for party balance in the makeup of absentee ballot boards (the local boards responsible for accepting and rejecting absentee ballots).
• Making reports to the legislature (and public) on absentee voting more vague.
• Weakening the level of state oversight in the auditing of election results by county governments.
• Reducing opportunities for citizen oversight of the voting process.
So far, neither the House nor the Senate elections committees have heard a bill that will address Minnesota’s issues with voter fraud and election integrity.
During the campaign to pass the Voter ID Amendment, opponents of the measure repeatedly said, “send it back to the legislature to get it right.” However, after several meetings of the elections committees in both the House and Senate, the only proposals so far have been policies that will further erode the integrity of our elections.
Minnesota consistently enjoys the highest voter turnout rates in the nation. We don’t have a problem with access to ballots, but making it “easier to vote,” rather than “harder to cheat” has been the legislature’s priority so far this session.
Please contact your senator and him or her that it’s time to get serious about election integrity.