Election reform during a pandemic

Minnesota avoided postponing or otherwise making changes to our presidential preference primary because our election occurred relatively early in the process on March 3. However, Minnesota’s state primary on August 11 and general election on November 3 will be affected by safety concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussions and legislative action have already occurred to increase mail-in balloting throughout the state. Minnesota already permits no-excuse absentee voting, but additional costs would be incurred by local election officials and the Secretary of State to greatly expand mail-in voting.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide $400 million to states to help them respond to necessary changes to the 2020 elections, including absentee voting expansion.  

Minnesota will need to act quickly to ensure vendors are able to develop more mail-compatible ballots, local election officials may need additional technology to process mail ballots, and accessibility concerns will need to be addressed, especially for voters with disabilities, transient voters, and those without home addresses.