Despite allegations that voter fraud and other flaws plague our election process, Minnesota continues to be an exemplary state in both our registration laws and overall civil engagement. Preliminary figures show Minnesota again had the highest voter turnout percentage in the nation, as was the case in 2010 and 2008. The Star Tribune reported that unofficial turnout numbers show about 76 percent of eligible voters in Minnesota participated in this year’s election.
Minnesota’s consistently above average voter turnout is in large part due to the relative ease and simplicity of our voter registration process. While the state doesn’t have official “early voting,” which drew much attention this campaign season, it does have same-day registration. Only eight other states, and recently the District of Columbia, currently allow same-day voter registration.
The campaign to add a photo ID restriction to Minnesota’s state Constitution this year relied heavily, if not entirely, on unfairly tarnishing the state and its uniquely simple and straightforward election process. Other states that have much more complex voting procedures should look to Minnesota to gain ideas about what reforms they might put into place to simplify the registration process and mitigate Election Day chaos. Fortunately, Minnesota voters were informed enough to vote down the unnecessary and expensive voter ID requirement. If any changes should be made to the voter process in Minnesota, or in states elsewhere, it should be to expand voting access for eligible citizens, not limit it.
Many states did experience problems at the polls on Election Day, such as extremely long lines and confusion about photo ID requirements. As President Barack Obama said last week, “We have to fix that,” and state leaders wishing to make changes should look to Minnesota as a state with an exemplary voting process.