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.
Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you move in to a rented house or apartment in Minneapolis, you’ll soon be handed a packet of voter information along with the keys to your new place. Starting March 1, the city will require landlords to give all new tenants two documents: a voter registration information sheet and a voter registration application. Landlords can either hand out paper copies or send tenants a link to the website where the documents are posted online. The new ordinance was approved by the City Council in September. Council Member Jacob Frey, who introduced the idea, said the requirement is a simple way the city can reach more young people, people of color and other groups who move frequently and may miss out on registering to vote.
Right now, if a natural disaster or other major issue happens when Minnesotans head out to vote, there’s no emergency plan in place.Minnesota is now one step closer to being prepared for an election day emergency. The Elections Emergency Planning Task Force is a group of 14 members consisted of election officials, and experts when it comes to emergency planning. Over the course of six meetings last year, they made a few recommendations.
With most of Wabasha County’s voting machines about to turn eight years old, Wabasha County Auditor/Treasurer Denise Anderson isn’t taking any chances. Anderson is urging cities and townships to start squirreling away money for when it’s time to replace the machines. “I’ve asked them to start putting money away now, because I feel there is not going to be any (state or federal) money when we need it,” she said. Wabasha County is far from alone when it comes to aging voting machines. A recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice found that 43 states will be using electronic voting machines that are at least a decade old in 2016 — including Minnesota.
It’s been more than a decade since the Help America Vote Act, which pumped federal dollars into states to upgrade their voting equipment to avoid a repeat of the disastrous problems of the 2000 election. Now, that equipment is starting to show signs of age. Local governments are starting to think about replacing it in the next few years — this time, without federal help. Sherburne County is the first area county to do so. On Tuesday, the county board voted to accept a bid from Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems for about $490,000 for a countywide upgrade of election equipment in time for the 2016 election.