The remedy for keeping released felons from voting illegally in Minnesota may include speeding up the restoration of their voting rights. Currently those individuals aren’t permitted to vote until they have finished their supervised release period, which is Minnesota’s term for parole. But Governor Dayton’s Election Integrity Task Force is exploring the idea of switching to the system used in North Dakota, where voting rights are restored upon release from incarceration. “It’s amazing how complex this all is,” Joe Nunez, the co-chair of the task force, said. “Some felons are under jurisdiction of the Dept of Corrections, some report to county probation officers, still others report directly to the courts.”
In Minnesota’s 2008 general election at least 200 felons voted statewide before they were eligible, which is a felony in and of itself. That was statistically small considering 2.7 million people took part in that election, but it gave critics of the system an opening to push for tighter controls.
The Task Force, in its first interim report to Governor Dayton, recommended many practical steps such as giving released felons better notice that their voting rights have been restored.