The Committee on State Government Finance and Elections met this week to discuss a Republican proposal to tie a second round of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds to the implementation of provisional ballots across the state. This latest attempt to withhold funds comes after Senate Republicans held up $6.6 million in federal HAVA funds until the final hours of the 2019 special session.
Congress and President Trump have approved additional funding for election security, with Minnesota set to receive $7.4 million. These funds are intended to assist counties – which directly administer the state’s elections – with software improvements, auditing, and training. The funds must first be authorized to the Secretary of State by the Legislature.
The bill the Republicans heard this week would effectively end same-day voter registration and require same-day registrants to fill out a provisional ballot that would either be accepted or rejected by the county auditor. There is no appeal process for voters to ensure their ballot is counted and would disproportionately affect communities of color and disenfranchise Minnesota voters.
Senate DFLers support the immediate authorization of $7.4 million to the Secretary of State for election security, because federal election security funding for local officials shouldn’t be held up by Republicans for political purposes – especially partisan attempts to make it harder for Minnesotans to vote. The bill passed the committee with all Republicans voting for it and all DFLers voting against it, and it will be sent to the Finance Committee for its next hearing.