A fight over online voter registration in Minnesota is becoming less about whether voters should have the ability to register over the Internet and more about whether Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) has overstepped his bounds. If the measure is implemented, Minnesota would become the 15th state to allow voters to register online. Both red states and blue states have set up online registration systems. But Ritchie, who has rubbed some Republicans the wrong way by pushing for new voting rules, has to get permission from the legislature before he moves forward, members in both parties say. “We don’t have concern about the policy, frankly. Other states have implemented it. We are interested in finding ways for people to register in a convenient manner,” said state Sen. David Hann (R), the Senate Republican leader.
Ritchie’s office contends he has the legislative authority to implement a new online voter registration system. In a letter to Republican legislative leaders delivered Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Beth Fraser said the office was permitted to launch online voter registration under existing law.
The Secretary of State’s office “has repeatedly added to the online tools available to voters — tools that similarly were authorized under existing law and about which we have never heard a complaint,” Fraser wrote. “Online voter registration and online absentee ballot applications are the logical next step.”