Early Voting Bill Moves Forward In State Legislature
It looks like a proposal that I stronlgy support to establish and implement early voting are anticipated to be heard on the House floor in the coming weeks.
The bills in both the House and Senate define early voting as “voting in person before Election Day at the office of the county auditor or designated municipal clerk.” Early voting is something already legal and being done in many states throughout the country (including all our neighborhing states) and helps improve voter turn out and also take some of the pressure of polling places on election day.
It also eliminates many of the administrative burdens and costs of the current absentee ballot procedures. Unlike the absentee voting process, early voting allows the in-person voter to correct errors made marking the ballot and discovered by the ballot tabulator, the same as a voter on Election Day.
According to the proposal, early voting would begin 15 days before the election through 5 p.m. on the third day before the election. All voters in line at 5 p.m. on the third day before the election must be allowed to vote. Voting would take place between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on each weekday during the early voting period; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on at least one of those days; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the two Saturdays before the election.
The Senate language for early voting is included in the elections omnibus bill (SF 677) authored by Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport), chair of the Elections Subcommittee. This bill will be heard in the State Department and Veterans Division, tomorrow, on April 16. If it passes, it is anticipated that it would need to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee before being considered by the full Senate.
In the House, HF 334, authored by Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-Fridley), was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on April 15 and it passed along party lines.
The Governor has indicated that he will only sign elections bills that have bi-partisan support, so it is going to be key to get some republicans to support Early Voting in the days ahead.
Please consider contacting legislators in both the House and Senate to support the passage of HF 334 and the early voting provisions in the Senate omnibus elections bill (SF 677). Share your experience with elections issues and how early voting would help you. You also might want to mention some of the following key messages:
• Early voting provides the same rigorous and secure process that occurs in the polling place.
• In-person voters cast their ballots at a designated polling location and have their eligibility verified by election officials, decreasing concerns about absentee voter fraud.
• There is no delay in processing the ballot; it is immediately inserted into the tabulator.
• Even though ballots are inserted into the tabulator, actual election results are not tabulated until the polls close on Election Day.
• Early voting ensures greater ballot accuracy because the tabulator notifies voters of potential errors so that the voters may correct their ballots and still have them processed by the tabulator in their presence.
• Fewer absentee voters could lower the high materials and postage costs associated with distributing and processing absentee ballots. Early voting would cost approximately half of the cost of absentee balloting.
• Early voting provides more opportunity to the voter by extending the voting period and can relieve polling place congestion on Election Day. Find out who your legislators are and how to contact them here.