Advocates for restoring felons’ voting rights faster are hoping to try again next year. Minnesota law bans felons from voting until they’ve completed parole or probation. Advocates made headway this year in their long push to restore that right immediately after felons are released from prison. They say it’s an essential right that would ease the transition back to society for an estimated 47,000 people.
Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.
Minnesota: Senate Judiciary chair: Giving up felon voting rights bill ‘not easy at all’ | Star Tribune
Minnesota senators debated election legislation Monday like they debate issues during campaigns: dividing along party lines.The Democrat-controlled Senate approved 39-28 a bill to allow mail balloting in small cities and townships, expand voting before Election Day and let felons vote once released from prison. In the meantime, negotiations began late Monday afternoon among the governor and legislative leaders toward a compromise on budget issues that must be resolved in the next week to meet the constitutionally mandated adjournment date. Republicans opposed the election bill by Sen. Katie Sieben, D-Newport.
Minnesota: Senate passes elections bill, would allow early voting, restore felon voting rights | StarTribune
The Senate passed a wide-ranging elections bill 39-28 on a mostly party line vote that would expand early voting and restore voting rights to felons once they are no longer incarcerated. The bill would automatically register eligible voters when they apply for a driver’s license or state identification card or have it renewed. It would also allow 16- and 17-year olds to “preregister” to vote. A driver’s license applicant could opt-out of registering to vote.
Minnesota: How a bill does not become law: behind the mysterious death of a bipartisan measure to restore felon voting rights | MinnPost
If political insiders ever want to know why so much of the public cares so little for the machinations of our current system, you could do worse than point to the tortured path of the “restore the vote” bill currently before the Minnesota Legislature. On one side of the issue, you have Rep. Tony Cornish, a lawman and gun rights advocate who represents Vernon Center in the Minnesota House and co-author of the bill, which would restore voting rights to felons who have completed their time behind bars but are still on probationary status. On the other side of the issue? Also Rep. Tony Cornish — the one who’s the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee and who refuses to let his committee hear the bill he helped write. Ah, politics.
Convicted felons should have their rights to vote restored once they’ve been released from prison, even if still on probation or parole, the Minnesota Senate voted Thursday. The move was spurred by activists who say felons should be encouraged. “If you’re still a citizen, don’t you deserve the right to participate in our democracy?” said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park. “Once they’re back out in the community, from Day One … they’re paying taxes, but they don’t have the right to vote on who their representatives are imposing those taxes?”
The next presidential election is looming, and those on both sides of the political spectrum are voicing anxieties about the modern electoral process. Through the course of the legislative session, several lawmakers have raised concerns about the changes they see in all elections. When Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, weighed in on recent legislation that would allow high school students to pre-register to vote, he elaborated on the larger political implications of legislation around the country having to do with voter registration. In particular, Anzelc criticized Republican bills aimed at preventing voter fraud. “We just concluded a period where the Republican-leaning members of the Legislature have been interested in making it harder for people to vote because they’re hung up on what they think is voter fraud in the state,” said Anzelc. “I’ve concluded based upon the data I’ve seen there isn’t the level of voter impropriety that they thought there was. So now we may be going into a period where people are promoting voting.”
Minnesota: State official raises concerns about aging election equipment | Litchfield Independent Review
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met with Meeker County Auditor Barb Loch on Monday to discuss election-related issues, including concerns about aging election equipment. Simon, who made six stops in the region Monday, said a common concern among local officials is finding money to replace a fleet of election equipment purchased about 10 to 12 years ago with federal funds. Those federal dollars are no longer available, Simon said during an interview after his meeting with Loch. “Now the question is … what can we do to alleviate costs for counties,” he said, adding that he is hoping the state can help pay for new machines, which run as much as $7,000 each.
When Dexter Stanton got out of prison in 2009 after serving time for a felony drunk-driving conviction, he wanted to get involved in the community in a positive way. He volunteered for political campaigns, worked a phone bank, canvassed neighborhoods and was even elected caucus chairman for the local DFL party. What he couldn’t do, however, was vote. “I was a part of the community, and yet I was separate,” Stanton said. “I wasn’t a community member.” Stanton said it doesn’t seem right for someone to be working and paying taxes in the community, but not have a say in decisions. For someone from a family long active in politics, “it was really frustrating,” he said.
Despite a broad coalition of backers and newfound bipartisan support, a measure to restore voting rights to felons as soon as they are released from behind bars once again appears doomed over reluctance from anonymous House lawmakers. The “Restore the Vote” movement appeared to receive new life in the 2015 legislative session, after some Republican lawmakers, along with conservative and libertarian-leaning groups, joined the 13-year-old push for reform. The 47,000 Minnesotans now under post-release supervision are not allowed to vote until they’re “off paper” — a process that can take years. If passed, the measure would put Minnesota in line with 18 other states that grant voting rights to felons on probation or parole.