The State Government and Elections Finance and Policy Committee this week heard a bill to limit Minnesotans’ access to early in-person absentee voting. Increasing numbers of Minnesotans are opting to take advantage of early in-person absentee voting for convenience and, with the pandemic continuing, for safety and ease.
As a result of the increase in demand for early in-person absentee voting, some counties – including Hennepin, Washington, and Olmsted – have opted to establish temporary absentee polling places for less than the 46-day absentee voting window. The Republican bill would require that any such polling places be open for that entire period. This would severely stretch local government resources, limit voter access and convenience, and significantly limit the facilities that could be used for such a purpose. All reports indicate that voters appreciate the ease and accessibility, and that counties and municipalities appreciate the reduced burden on local clerks’ offices. These sorts of polling places are often open for the final days of absentee voting when demand is the highest.
Minnesota consistently leads the nation in voter turnout because we make it easy for our neighbors to vote. Our long history of easy access to absentee voting is a critical piece of that, and local government’s ability to innovate to meet those needs is better for everyone. Senate DFLers are committed to ensuring that every Minnesotan is easily and freely able to exercise their right to vote. (SF 651)