A Minnesota task force studying a higher-tech voter verification process leaned away Monday from recommending that electronic poll books be mandatory in every precinct for the 2014 statewide election. Several panel members highlighted concerns over equipment costs, security protocols and timing while describing a full-scale rollout by next fall as a tall order. The task force will deliver its final recommendations to the Legislature in January and could call for more experimentation. “We need to make sure we don’t do it too soon — before we are ready,” said task force member Max Hailperin, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.
Minnesota: Ritchie seeks dismissal of legal challenge to new online voter sign-up system | Star Tribune
A lawsuit contesting a new, Internet-based system for voter registration should be dismissed because plaintiffs lack standing to sue, attorneys for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie argued Wednesday. New documents filed in the case say those behind the lawsuit are seeking an extraordinary remedy and can’t show they’ve been injured. Four Minnesota Republican legislators and two advocacy groups filed the lawsuit last month. They argued that Ritchie, a Democrat, exceeded his power by creating the registration tool without explicit legislative consent. The formal response on behalf of Ritchie was filed ahead of a hearing next week in Ramsey County District Court.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is proposing a number of rule changes to state elections law which he hopes to see implemented in time for the 2014 primary elections. The changes would give greater options for proof of identification and residency in Minnesota, and seem aimed at making it easier for transient citizens and college students to vote. Rather than push the measures as part of a legislative agenda, Ritchie is seeking to enact them as administrative changes. According to the press release, both of his predecessors in that office, Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake,and longtime DFL Secretary of State Joan Growe also invoked their power to change election rules. Under one proposed rule, voters would be allowed to register using a learner’s permit in place of a driver’s license, and could also present an identification card issued by any other state as a valid form of identification.
Minnesota: Law cited to justify online voter registration passed with no controversy | Minnesota Public Radio News
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s contention that a 13-year-old law gave him the green light to launch a new online voter registration system is receiving support from two former legislators who sponsored the measure. Former state Rep. Matt Entenza and former state Sen. Deanna Wiener, both Democrats say an online voter registration system Ritchie started does fall under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act passed in 2000. When Ritchie, a Democrat, announced the start of the system in September, he said the law required his office to provide online options for all paper transactions. ”We’ve been able to get quite a bit, but not all of our business services online, as mandated by that 2000 law,” Ritchie said then. “We’ve been able to get some, but not all of our election services online as mandated by that law. But we’re slowly but surely getting there.”
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s contention that a 13-year-old law gave him the green light to launch a new online voter registration system is receiving support from two former legislators who sponsored the measure. Former state Rep. Matt Entenza and former state Sen. Deanna Wiener, both Democrats, say an online voter registration system Ritchie started does fall under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act passed in 2000. When Ritchie, a Democrat, announced the start of the system in September, he said the law required his office to provide online options for all paper transactions. “We’ve been able to get quite a bit, but not all of our business services online, as mandated by that 2000 law,” Ritchie said then. “We’ve been able to get some, but not all of our election services online as mandated by that law. But we’re slowly but surely getting there.”
Nearly 1,500 Minnesotans used Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s new online voter registration system last month, but the program’s legitimacy is under question. Four Republican state legislators and two conservative interest groups filed a lawsuit last Monday against Ritchie, claiming the program was created illegally without legislative input. The registration program, which debuted Sept. 26, allows voters to register or update their information through an online form instead of a paper application. During the site’s initial debut, which lasted about three weeks, the system registered 323 new voters statewide for the 2013 elections, and about 900 Minnesotans used the site to update their information. The plaintiffs are requesting the program end completely and its users re-register before casting a ballot. Until the case is heard, nothing will change for voters who have used the site, according to a report by the Star Tribune. Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, that supports Ritchie’s program, said in a Nov. 1 statement the system “makes the process of registering to vote easier and more streamlined. Republicans are simply being obstructionist in opposing online voter registration … I commend Mark Ritchie for a job well done to move Minnesota’s voting systems into the future,” he said in the statement.
Tuesday’s polls in St. Paul and Minneapolis drew both fans and skeptics of ranked-choice voting — but relatively little confusion despite long candidate slates. The votes, though, did not produce clear winners Tuesday evening in the St. Paul Ward 1 city council race, the Minneapolis mayor race and in three of 13 city council wards in that city. Under the ranked-choice system, only candidates who garner more than 50 percent of first-choice votes emerge as clear-cut victors. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman handily won re-election. For both cities, it was the second go-around with the system, in which voters rank candidates rather than casting a ballot just for their top choices. St. Paul voters elected city council candidates with ranked ballots in 2011. Minneapolis used the system in the 2009 re-election of Mayor R.T. Rybak. At some polling sites, election officials said practice — along with typically light off-year election turnout — made for a smooth process. ”We explain ranked choice to those that don’t get it,” said Julia New-Landrum, an election judge in St. Paul’s Ward 1. “Just about 90 percent of people know what it is.”
A group of Republican lawmakers and two interest groups who pushed for voter ID now are going to court to stop a state website that allows voters to register online. In a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court on Monday, the group contends that DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie overstepped his authority when he launched the website in September. More than 2,000 Minnesotans have submitted voter registration applications since then. Dan McGrath, president of Minnesota Majority, said Monday that the lawsuit will not immediately affect anyone who used the system to register for Tuesday’s local elections. But, he said, it could be used to challenge the results of those elections, particularly in close races. The suit seeks action by mid-December. If a court found that Ritchie lacked the authority to start the website, the group could ask that votes cast by those who registered online be disqualified. More than 80 city and school board races are being held across the state on Tuesday, including mayoral contests in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Minneapolis’ crowded mayoral race has turned into the Battle to Be Nice, and just about everybody credits the use of ranked-choice voting for the absence of anything resembling negative campaigning. The reason: If you call your opponent a dummy, there is a very good chance the dummy’s supporters will scratch you off their list as a possible second or third choice. And the key to winning appears certain to depend on those second and third choices. “We don’t have the negative ads to say, ‘This person is horrible, so vote for my guy,’ ” said Lynne Bolton, campaign manager for Jackie Cherryhomes. “We’re used to the system where you have two choices, and one is bad and the other is good.”
The next mayor of Minneapolis might be one of two City Council members. It could be one of two former City Council presidents, or a former county commissioner. Or maybe it will be Captain Jack Sparrow. Or the hairy dude who comes striding out of a lake in an online campaign video, points at the camera and promises to stop visiting strip clubs if he’s elected. It’s a weird and wide-open race for mayor this year in Minnesota’s largest city. With no incumbent on the ballot, an exceptionally low candidate filing fee of $20, and the city’s continuing experiment with a novel voting system, the November general election has a whopping 35 contenders on the ballot. ”It’s like mayor soup,” said Katherine Milton, a Minneapolis voter and arts consultant who is one of many trying to figure out the city’s “ranked choice” voting system. “It’s like putting together a 5,000-piece puzzle.” The cluttered contest comes at an important moment for this city of 393,000, as its population has begun to shoot up after decades of decline. Popular outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak made himself a high-profile booster-in-chief by luring young professionals and empty nesters with the city’s dozens of parks and lakes, many miles of bike trails, thriving restaurant and nightlife scene, diverse cultural amenities, pro sports venues and legal gay marriage.