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League-supported bills to establish and implement early voting are anticipated to be heard on the House floor in the coming weeks.
(Published Apr 15, 2013)
1. Get Informed.
The League supports establishing early voting as it is consistent with the League’s elections policies (SD-62 on page 39 in the 2013 City Policies [pdf]). The bills in both the House and Senate define early voting as “voting in person before Election Day at the office of the county auditor or designated municipal clerk.” It must be made available to any eligible voter for primary, general, and special elections for federal, state, or county offices.
An early voting system eliminates many of the administrative burdens and costs of the current absentee ballot procedures, which many Minnesotans currently believe is early voting. In addition, unlike the absentee voting process, early voting allows the in-person voter to correct errors made marking the ballot and discovered by the ballot tabulator, the same as a voter on Election Day.
Early voting would begin 15 days before the election through 5 p.m. on the third day before the election. All voters in line at 5 p.m. on the third day before the election must be allowed to vote.
Voting would take place between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on each weekday during the early voting period; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on at least one of those days; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the two Saturdays before the election.
The Senate language for early voting is included in the elections omnibus bill (SF 677) authored by Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport), chair of the Elections Subcommittee. This bill will be heard in the State Department and Veterans Division on April 16. If it passes, it is anticipated that it would need to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee before being considered by the full Senate.
In the House, HF 334, authored by Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-Fridley), will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on April 15. It is expected that this will be its last stop before being placed on the general register for debate on the House floor.
2. Take Action.
City officials are encouraged to contact legislators in both the House and Senate to support the passage of HF 334 and the early voting provisions in the Senate omnibus elections bill (SF 677).
Share your city’s experience with elections issues and how early voting would impact elections administration. There is concern among opponents that election integrity will be compromised should early voting be established. Talk with your legislator about how your city maintains security and integrity of elections and how early voting would allow voters to not only have more options of when to vote, but also to ensure their ballot is correct.
Many legislators that will vote on this bill when it is on the floor have not been in committees that have heard the bill, and they have not had the opportunity to learn in depth about early voting. Therefore, it is crucial to share your local expertise with administering elections and willingness to answer questions or points of clarification on elections.
3. Stay Involved.
By contacting legislators to share your city’s elections experience, the issue and priority of early voting is brought to greater attention. With many new legislators, and many with no local government experience, it’s important that they learn how elections are run at city hall. Your expertise and experience administering elections is greatly needed in moving early voting forward.
Stay tuned to League publications for more information:
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Contact Ann Lindstrom
(651) 281-1261 or (800) 925-1122
Contact Laura Ziegler
(651) 281-1267 or (800) 925-1122
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