Senator Rest introduces Bill Addressing Privacy for Presidential Nomination Primary Voter Data

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Senator Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) introduces new legislation that addresses the privacy concerns surrounding the presidential nomination primary voter data with the support of the Office of the Secretary of State.

“In order for Minnesota to have a meaningful role at the national conventions that nominate presidential candidates, the major parties, as a practical matter, need to verify the rosters of those who participate in the process,” said Sen. Rest. “We moved to a presidential nomination primary approach in 2016 to avoid the chaos of the 2016 Minnesota precinct caucuses, or the chaos most recently experienced in Iowa, at least for Democrats. There is no reason, however, for the rosters to be used for any purpose other than to indicate the relative strength of candidates in selecting delegates to the conventions.”

“My legislation, supported by Secretary of State Steve Simon, and  co-authored by Senators Kent Eken, Jeff Hayden, Karin Housley and Scott Jensen, will protect the privacy of those who want to vote in the presidential primary of  their party,” Rest added, “but do not want their information to be public or shared for any other purpose. Our bill addresses those concerns and can be acted on quickly and sent to the governor. The important thing is that we work together to keep voters’ data secure and private, so they are comfortable voicing their opinions in our democracy.”

The legislation adds additional privacy language to the current statute, to prohibit all major parties from using voters’ information for anything other than election purposes. The new legislation would only allow the presidential primary political party list to be given to a single representative from each major party designated by the chair of the party’s national committee. They must submit a request and a written acknowledgment of the requirements, remedies, and penalties. The data contained on the list would only be used to verify compliance with applicable national party rules governing the nomination of a candidate and not the voter’s candidate of choice. The legislation also allows voters to fill out an opt-out form beforehand.

Privacy concerns have been brought forward from both major parties. Representative Peggy Scott, R-Andover, plans to introduce legislation to prohibit the collection of ballot choice information.

“I absolutely applaud her instincts,” said Sen. Rest said. “But I take exception to making Minnesota irrelevant in the process of choosing our nominees by violating the practical rules of the major parties. It is possible to accept the rules and protect the privacy of voters in the process.”

Senator Ann Rest
Ann Rest represents District 45, which includes portions of the western suburbs of Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metro area.

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