Minnesota

Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.

Minnesota: After DNC hack, Minnesota braces for digital threat to election | Minneapolis Star Tribune

The list of precautions the state has taken to keep computer hackers from hijacking the November election stretches to two single-spaced pages: a cyber security team, a new outside election consultant and an encrypted internet transmission system. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and his staff say they feel confident that they have taken every reasonable step to prevent hackers from upending the election. Yet, memories of a hack in 2009 that shut down the Secretary of State’s business website never quite fade. And now a foreign-led hack of Democratic National Committee computers is reigniting previous concerns about the upcoming election. “If the [voting] system is connected to the internet or if the system is connected to a network that’s connected to the internet, there’s a cascading risk,” said Mike Johnson, who spent 15 years directing cyber security for Bremer Bank and now teaches at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute. Across the country, in the aftermath of the extraordinary attack on the DNC computers, cyber security experts are newly assessing the vulnerability of the nation’s voting system. Some say the technological weaknesses are significant enough to disrupt the presidential election. Read More

barcode

Minnesota: Ballot barcode draws questions | Brainerd Dispatch

A Crow Wing County resident Tuesday raised concerns about whether a barcode on his ballot could contain identifying information. Charlie Makidon of Gail Lake Township told the county board during open forum he believes the primary election ballot he received by mail is “marked” by a QR code printed at the bottom. “To 99 percent of the people, this is a marked ballot,” Makidon said. “What does the code say? Does it say, ‘Republican, throw it away?’ Does it say, ‘Democrat, count twice?'” Makidon said he called the county Monday for more information on the code, which is a type of machine-readable barcode that can store website URLs, phone numbers, email addresses and other alphanumeric data. The codes have proliferated in recent years, along with smartphone apps allowing users to acquire the information they contain. An employee in the administrative services office first directed Makidon to call the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, who then redirected Makidon back to Crow Wing County. Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson, whose office is in charge of elections in the county, called Makidon to discuss the matter. Erickson told Makidon the employee had erred in directing him to the secretary of state’s office. Read More

Minnesota: State moves to presidential primary in 2020 | Pioneer Press

Minnesota will move from a presidential caucus to a presidential primary for the 2020 election. Gov. Mark Dayton signed the switch into law on Sunday. Under the new system, voters would make their February partisan presidential picks in an election run by the state, rather than in caucuses run by parties. Whether individual voters picked a Republican ballot or a Democratic one would become public, under the new law. But voters would not be bound in any way to their partisan picks in future elections nor would they have to register with any party in advance of the presidential primary. Read More

Minnesota: Senate approves move to presidential primary | Duluth News Tribune

After two decades of complaints about the Minnesota presidential caucus system, the state is moving swiftly to adopt a presidential primary. The state Senate overwhelmingly approved a presidential primary measure, which would negate the need for a presidential caucus in 2020. The House is following in the same vein and may give the measure a final vote on Friday. After a crush of people crowded into thousands of caucus sites across Minnesota in February, Minnesota voters, party leaders and others decided it was time to switch to a primary. “Despite the valiant efforts from thousands of volunteers, we also experienced some chaos,” Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, said of the 2016 caucus crush. Rest is the sponsor of the bill making the switch. Under the primary plan, parties would still have caucuses but the binding presidential preference vote would be held during a primary. Read More

Minnesota: Push to convert from caucuses to primaries cools at Capitol | Minnesota Public Radio

It was a hot issue a couple months ago. But with less than three weeks left in the 2016 session, Minnesota lawmakers have yet to pass a bill to establish a statewide presidential primary. Supporters of the proposed switch were hoping to strike quickly, while memories of packed March 1 precinct caucuses were still fresh. But a state Senate hearing Tuesday showed many questions remain about how a presidential primary would work. State Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, told members of the Senate Finance Committee that a new primary would allow more voters to participate in the presidential nomination process, either in-person or by absentee ballot. But Rest noted that the two major parties insisted on a key requirement. Read More

Minnesota: Dayton advocates voting rights for released felons | Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton would like formerly imprisoned felons to be able to vote in Minnesota, he said Wednesday. “We should let people who have served their sentences, paid their debt to society, be given their chance to restore their active participation in our … democratic process,” the Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said. With his comments, Dayton waded into a debate that has roiled the state and nation. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Senate approved a measure to allow felons to vote after they served their sentences. Last week, Virginia’s governor used his executive power to restore voting rights to felons who are on supervised release in that state. Other states have also grappled with laws that limit felons ability to vote evening after they have served their prison sentences. Read More

Minnesota: Senators make new voting push for freed felons | Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota senators again went on record Tuesday in favor of restoring voting rights more quickly to felons no longer incarcerated, a plan that faces stiff opposition in the Republican-led House. Currently, felons must complete their parole and probation before regaining voting rights. Some 47,000 people would be affected by the proposal, supporters said. Voting by ex-inmates has been a prominent issue nationally, with Virginia’s governor using an executive order last week restoring voting rights for more than 200,000 felons in his state. Given resistance among House leadership, chances remain slim that the legislation will reach DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in the form the Senate approved it. Similar legislation won Senate approval last year but didn’t go any further. Read More

Minnesota: Primary vs. caucus: State legislature, governor seem ready to make change | St, Paul Pioneer Press

After more than 321,000 Minnesotans stuffed themselves into schools, churches, fire halls, snowmobile groups and Lions Clubs across the state to take part in presidential picking last month, Capitol and party leaders, as well as many voters, decided it is time for a change. Within days of the March 1 caucuses, leaders and their constituents began clamoring for the state to move from a presidential caucus system to a presidential primary. The volume was too great, the lines were too long and the caucus sites too chaotic for the system to continue, supporters said. Despite bogging down on other issues, the Legislature and the governor appear ready to make the change. In both the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor controlled Senate, measures to change the 2020 presidential selection process into a primary are zipping along. Read More

caucus

Minnesota: Election-year session sees election-reform bills | Capitol Report

Irony alert: Election-reform bills proposed this session must pass through legislative panels led by lawmakers who’ve decided they aren’t going to run in the next election. The chairs of the House committee and Senate subcommittee overseeing proposed changes to Minnesota elections both said last month (before the March 1 precinct caucuses and the March 8 start of session) that they won’t be on the ballot for re-election in November. Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, chair of the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee, made his announcement in late February, and Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Subcommittee on Elections, announced in early February. Read More

Minnesota: Presidential primary push gets underway at Capitol | Minnesota Public Radio

A Minnesota House committee began the debate Wednesday about switching Minnesota to a presidential primary. Lawmakers began calling for the move after many precinct caucus sites were overwhelmed by heavier-than-expected turnout on March 1. Primary supporters say now is the time to make the change. But there are still a lot of Interest in this year’s presidential contest is running high, and lots of Minnesotans showed up at precinct caucuses to vote for their preferred candidates. It was record turnout for state Republicans and nearly a record for Democrats. But unlike a typical election, everyone had to arrive at roughly the same time, and that caused problems. Read More