In November, voters rejected the proposal to amend the state constitution to require photo identification in order to vote. The campaign urging voters to reject the amendment overcame early polling of nearly 80 percent approval on the premise of sending the broken proposal back to the Legislature.
As the state Legislature convenes, establishing the health insurance exchange mandated by the Affordable Care Act and fixing the state budget have taken center stage. However, equitable election access and integrity continues to be a contentious issue, both nationally and in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton’s election task force has issued a report providing recommendations for reforming Minnesota’s election system.
With exceedingly close state elections, like Sen. Al Franken’s 312 vote margin of victory in 2008, Minnesotans deserve a modern system to ensure both equitable access and confidence in the integrity of the fundamental process underlying our representative democracy. The task force recommended the consideration of electronic poll books, online voter registration, early voting and an evaluation of restoring felon’s voting rights upon release from incarceration. Such measures will address the concerns of election integrity by allowing election judges to verify identity and poll location electronically.
The proposals also improve access. Early voting would ensure long lines on Election Day (often caused by antiquated paper poll books) would not prevent voters from casting ballots. Given the public’s mandate, the Legislature has both the opportunity and the obligation to prioritize an investment in modernizing Minnesota’s election system to ensure both voter access and election integrity.