Voter suppression legislation reintroduced

A bill to implement provisional ballots was heard in State Government Finance Committee this week. Provisional ballots would require voters whose status has been challenged to cast a provisional ballot. Challenges may be due to disputed residency, felony, guardianship, or citizenship status, but can also be the result of administrative error or mistaken identity. A voter who casts a provisional ballot would have seven days to verify in person to the county auditor or municipal clerk they are eligible to vote.

Nationwide, provisional ballots are used in conjunction with voter ID requirements or to burden same-day registrants. Numerous states with voter ID restrictions will only allow a voter to cast a provisional ballot if the voter does not provide necessary identification at the polls.

States with same-day voter registration (including Minnesota) were exempt from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirement for provisional ballots. The original intent of provisional ballots was to allow citizens to vote who otherwise would not be able to vote due to administrative error or uncertainty of eligibility and has been superseded by states, resulting in disenfranchisement.

Provisional balloting places the burden on citizens to prove, within a narrow one-week window, they are eligible to vote, regardless of whether their challenged status was due to an administrative error. Data suggests about 25% of provisional ballots are never counted.  Between 2006 and 2016, states reported 2.7 million provisional ballots were never counted (the most common reason is due to not being registered, not because of voter ineligibility).

Thousands of Minnesota voters would be needlessly disenfranchised if provisional ballots became a reality in our state, and the state would likely lose its reputation for having the highest voter turnout in the nation. (S.F. 1803)

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