Minnesota State Representative Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley) describes the non-controversial election changes that were passed by the Minnesota house and senate and then vetoed by Republican Governor Pawlenty. Even though the election changes were requested by election officials across the state, Republicans would sign no election law that did not include a requirement for election ID. Election ID is supposed to prevent voter ID fraud, which there is no evidence that voter fraud exists.
Rep. Winkler summarized the election reforms this way:
• Centralizes Absentee Vote Count – Takes the authority to count absentee votes away from individual precincts – putting that discretion into the hands of county election officials. This would ensure a more accurate, uniform system for counting, accepting, or rejecting absentee ballots in Minnesota elections.
• Absentee Voter Identification- Requires that absentee ballot applications and return envelopes request the voters’ date of birth, last four SSN digits, and driver’s license/ID card number (only date of birth is currently required). This process would replace the current more subjective practice of comparing signatures and automatically, without notice, rejecting ballots that do not match the application.
• Voter Registration System- Requires that local elections officials input returned absentee ballot application data and returned absentee ballots into the statewide voter registration system. The bill requires these officials be trained and granted access to the system.
• Notifies Rejected Absentee Voters- The absentee ballot board must send notice and a replacement ballot to any absentee voter whose ballot is rejected at least five days before the election. The board must attempt to contact absentee voters by phone or email if their absentee ballot is rejected five days or less before the election. Currently, absentee voters whose ballots are rejected are not contacted.
• Enhances Oversight of Rejected Absentee Ballots- All absentee ballot board decisions to reject an absentee ballot are subject to canvassing board review. If the canvassing board agrees to count a previously rejected ballot, the ballot is counted.
• Prevents Voting Twice- Requires that local elections officials mark rosters and update reports for all precincts regarding which voters have cast an absentee ballot. Absentee voters cannot cast subsequent, overriding, absentee or regular ballots. The bill requires voting place rosters clearly indicate that voters cannot vote twice.
• Includes Absentee Votes in Precinct Totals- For state elections, absentee ballots must be included in precinct totals. For other elections, absentee ballot totals can be counted separately.