Partisan elections bill passes second committee

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A partisan Omnibus Elections Bill has passed a second committee and is on to another in the Senate. The bill would impose provisional ballots in Minnesota for anyone with a challenged status at the polls. Sometimes a voter’s information can be incorrect at the polls or a voter can be mistaken for another person who is ineligible to vote. In these cases, a voter is allowed to testify under oath they are eligible and cast their vote. The proposed bill would repeal this ability and require challenged voters to cast a provisional ballot. While most states have provisional ballots, Minnesota does not because same-day voter registration is available. In the 2012 Presidential Election, over a quarter of the provisional votes cast nationwide were never counted.

This Omnibus Elections Bill is a partisan attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise voters across the state under the guise of election integrity. The Secretary of State and the League of Women Voters have testified in opposition to this bill based on the provision implementing provisional ballots.

Another problem with the Omnibus Elections Bill is a matter of voter data privacy. Currently, anyone can purchase limited voter data from the Secretary of State’s Statewide Voter Registration System. It also includes private data on the history of a voter’s challenged status. The Omnibus Elections Bill would make this data public, even after a voter resolved their challenged status with the county auditor.

Due to these issues, the Omnibus Elections Bill has been very contentious in the Senate and will likely continue to be unless widespread changes are made. Governor Dayton has indicated he will not sign any elections bill that does not have bipartisan support, and has vetoed divisive elections bills in the past. (SF 514)