This may not be the legislative session for substantial election law changes. Senate Democrats moved on an omnibus elections bill in committee this week without any Republican votes, even though Gov. Mark Dayton has maintained his pledge that election legislation must garner broad bipartisan support to secure his signature. It’s unclear how Democrats expect the measure to gain Republican backing going forward. “It gives us a little bit of power, too — almost like a veto,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said on Friday. “If we don’t put any Republican votes up, he’s pledged to veto that stuff.”
The bill contains certain provisions — including early voting and no-excuse absentee balloting — that Republicans say would serve to expand voter access without addressing election integrity, which they say is their main legislative concern related to elections.
“It passed on a party line vote, and we’re hopeful that throughout the remainder of working the bill, we’ll gain Republican support for an overall package,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Katie Sieben, chairwoman of the Senate Elections Committee, said after Wednesday’s vote.
But Sieben couldn’t point to specific policies DFLers might tack on during negotiations with Republican to secure their votes for the measure, which has at least one more committee stop.