SAINT PAUL, MN – To protect the integrity of Minnesota’s elections and the safety of Minnesota’s voters, Senate DFL leaders called on Senate Republicans to join them in passing legislation to ensure fair and safe elections that would expand opportunities and alternatives for people to cast a ballot.
“The right to a free and fair election is foundational to the function of our democracy, and yet that right is being challenged by the public health crisis facing our state,” said Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent. “Minnesotans should not be faced with the choice between their health, and their right to vote. We must pass legislation that protects Minnesotans’ health and their right to vote.”
Legislation will be proposed to authorize the Secretary of State to implement procedures that prioritize public health and election integrity during the peacetime emergency. The Senate DFL also supports legislation to authorize expanded vote-my-mail options
“The threat of COVID-19 will turn thousands of people away from the polls, and if nothing is done, thousands of Minnesotans will be disenfranchised,” said Senator Jim Carlson, ranking DFL lead on the Senate State Government and Policy and Elections Committee. “During this emergency we can and should take steps like statewide vote by mail and unlocking the approximately $17 million in Help America Vote Act funding to protect Minnesotans and shore up our elections. We must have a hearing as soon as possible on these measures.”
Voter privacy is also under threat, as the Senate has not passed legislation to protect the data of those who participated in the presidential primary. Action still needs to be taken to prohibit the release of this data to political groups.
“Making our elections safe and secure for voters should not be a partisan issue,” said Senator Ann Rest. “There are only ten weeks until voters head to the polls, and we know the threat of COVID-19 will almost certainly remain. We must take action on these issues and complete our work in the time we have before adjournment and to give the Secretary of State time to help our election officials throughout the state.”
Minnesota prides itself on consistently having the highest rate of voter turnout in the nation, and by passing legislation that allows vote by mail we protect the health and safety of Minnesotans and their right to vote during this public health emergency.
“There is no reason to make people choose between their safety and their right to vote – and we can make sure of that by passing these bills,” said Assistant DFL Leader Senator Nick Frentz. “We don’t have to look further than our neighbor to the east about the dangers of holding an election without taking the safety precautions necessary during COVID-19. We cannot fail our fundamental responsibility of keeping Minnesotans safe.”