Lawmakers will likely move forward with limited electronic-pollbook legislation this session, but it appears that the sense of urgency behind the voting technology has faded a bit. A state Senate committee passed legislation on Wednesday — a day after its House counterpart — that came out of a pollbook task force in late January. The task force recommended yet another study of electronic pollbooks during the 2014 mid-term elections and putting standards for pollbooks in state law. The electronic pollbook systems consist of laptops or tablet computers installed with voting administration software that advocates say improves election speed, helps with accuracy and reduces some costs over the current paper pollbooks.
Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.
Minnesotans should be able to register to vote online, a bipartisan panel of legislators voted on Tuesday. The House Elections Committee unanimously approved the practice that has been available — with considerable controversy — since last year. “I think it’s an issue that is kind of a no-brainer for the state of Minnesota,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office began accepting online registrations in September, although the law did not specifically permit it. DFLers, Republicans, Gov. Mark Dayton and the nonpartisan legislative auditor have said that the matter should have been approved by the Legislature first. Ritchie said existing law gave him the authority to start registering voters online.
Minnesota: Task force that led pilot project on electronic voting rosters backs another study | Star Tribune
A Minnesota panel that led a pilot project around an electronic voter verification process is urging the Legislature to authorize a more extensive study this fall. The Electronic Roster Task Force was meeting Friday to finalize a report and proposed legislation. The recommendations they were set to adopt seek a broader examination of the effectiveness and expense of a higher-tech alternative to the paper sign-in process at polling places. The panel asks the state to pick up costs of the next study and any technological needs required for local election administrators to carry out the test. The review would occur at more sites and in a busier environment than the 2013 pilot. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said a higher turnout election would offer a better handle of the costs versus benefits.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers agree that online voter registration is a good idea — if it is done right. At least, that consensus emerged Tuesday during a House Elections Committee hearing on a bill that would authorize online registration and absentee ballot applications. Registering online is “user friendly, cheaper and more reliable” than filling out paper applications, said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, the committee chairman and bill sponsor. Minnesota voters already can register electronically. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie started accepting online registrations in September. So far, about 2,500 voters have registered on the new website.
Long lines at U.S. polling places could be shortened if state and local governments take actions such as allowing early voting and online voter registration, a presidential commission said Wednesday. Good ideas, Deputy Minnesota Secretary of State Beth Fraser said, adding that Minnesota already is making progress in key areas. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie implemented online voter registration last year, although Republican legislators, and some Democrats, say he should have received their approval before it launched. And Minnesota takes a baby step toward early voting with “no excuse” absentee balloting starting this year. Fraser said Minnesotans can expect their legislators to discuss allowing voters to cast ballots at city or county elections offices before Election Day itself.
The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case testing a Minnesota law that bans the wearing of buttons or clothing with messages that election officials deem too political to be worn within 100 feet of any polling place. The justices took the action in a one-line order without comment. It lets stand a federal appeals court decision upholding the statute. The Minnesota law seeks to prevent campaigning and electioneering by candidates and their supporters at the locations where voters are casting their ballots. But an array of conservative groups challenging the statute said it went far beyond preventing electioneering and violated the free speech rights of voters to express broader political ideas without facing government censorship.
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.
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.”