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SF164 modifies certain voter registration provisions and election administrative procedures for individuals who been convicted of a felony.
One of the most often discussed issues of the governor’s task force on election integrity was that of the notification of felons regarding their ability to vote. When the task force concluded its work in January of this year, they provided recommendations to the Legislature for addressing various election issues. Sen. Bobby Jo Champion’s (DFL-Minneapolis) bill, SF164, includes those recommendations and was heard in the Senate Judiciary committee and passed on to the Senate Elections subcomittee.
The bill expands the data sharing between the Department of Corrections and the Office of the Secretary of State so that people with a felony wishing to vote do not register or vote before their rights have been restored. It also requires notice of loss of voting rights to the adult felon on probation in writing and must be signed by the individual. The bill also changes the responsibility of investigation and prosecution from the county attorney to a law enforcement agency.
During the hearing, several testifiers urged the committee to consider adopting the “North Dakota model” instead of modifying notification and registration procedures. This model restores voting once an individual is no longer in confinement. In other words, once an individual who has a received a felony conviction completes their prison time and is released back into the community, their voting rights are restored. If this model was adopted, the modifications presented in SF164 would no longer be needed.
Sen. Ron Latz(DFL-St. Louis Park) who chairs the committee, reminded testifiers of the need for bipartisan support for elections legislation as required by Governor Dayton. At this time, it is speculated that the North Dakota model would not have bipartisan support. In the meantime, SF 164, if signed into law, will remedy some of the difficulties in ensuring that those with felony convictions do not register or register to vote until their rights have been restored. The House companion,HF637, is authored by Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
Questions? Contact Ann Lindstrom at email@example.com or at 651-281-1261.
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