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SF 535 was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus elections bill.
(Published Feb 20, 2013)
Senate Elections subcommittee chair Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport) presented her bill (SF 535) requiring early voting to be available for all primary, general, and special elections for federal, state or county office today.
Right now, Minnesota has absentee voting that requires an excuse or reason for voting early and many Minnesotans believe this to be “early voting”. During her overview, Sen. Sieben provided a hand-out of a map from the National Conference of State Legislatures illustrating absentee and early voting across the country. Minnesota is only one of 15 states that does not allow for no-excuse absentee voting or early voting. All surrounding states (North and South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin) and many others, offer both early voting and no-excuse absentee voting.
The League of Minnesota Cities supports the adoption of legislation establishing an early voting process in cooperation with local election officials (p. 40, SD-62, of 2013 City Policies). IGR Representative Ann Lindstrom testified in support of the bill along with the League’s Elections Task Force Co-Chairs Deb Mangen and Tom Ferber.
Concerns were raised about maintaining the integrity of the elections process with an early voting system. Sen. Sieben highlighted language in the bill designating locations of early voting as county auditor offices in county-owned or operated buildings and at the municipal clerk’s office. This is where voters currently vote absentee. By not establishing polling centers, as in other states and in previous proposals, Sen. Sieben argued that these locations will ensure the integrity of the system.
The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus elections bill. The House companion, HF 334, is authored by Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-Fridley) and has not had a hearing yet.
Questions? Contact Ann Lindstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 651-281-1261.
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