Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie must immediately shut down the online voter registration system he launched last year because he lacked the authority to create it, a Ramsey County judge decided Monday. Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann said Ritchie had until midnight on Tuesday to close the system and confirm that he had done so by Wednesday. More than 3,600 Minnesotans have taken advantage of online registration.
The dutiful Washington County voter, having chosen candidates and issues after a few moments of intense concentration in the election booth, steps to the counting machine with ballot in hand only to find a problem. But what? Did the voter “overwrite” the ballot by marking more than one candidate for a race? Or stray across party lines in a primary election? Or fail to mark the vote inside the oval spaces provided, circling them instead? A color screen on the county’s new voting machine indicates an error.
SAINT PAUL, Minnesota — The Pew Charitable Trusts’ latest Election Performance Index, released today, ranks Minnesota second in the country for its election performance — citing the state’s nation-leading voter turnout, popular election day registration, its online suite of voter tools at mnvotes.org, and more. Pew identified Minnesota as one of only seven other states that placed in the top tier for each election year measured (2008, 2010 and 2012).
Minnesota Senator Katie Sieben (D) chairs the Rules and Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections. She represents a suburban part of St. Paul and previously served in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Sieben’s father, Michael Sieben, and grandfather, Harry Sieben, also served in the Minnesota House. The Canvass interviewed Sieben on March 14.
Minnesotans should be able to register to vote online, a bipartisan panel of legislators voted on Tuesday. The House Elections Committee unanimously approved the practice that has been available — with considerable controversy — since last year. “I think it’s an issue that is kind of a no-brainer for the state of Minnesota,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office began accepting online registrations in September, although the law did not specifically permit it. DFLers, Republicans, Gov.
Lawmakers will likely move forward with limited electronic-pollbook legislation this session, but it appears that the sense of urgency behind the voting technology has faded a bit. A state Senate committee passed legislation on Wednesday — a day after its House counterpart — that came out of a pollbook task force in late January.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers agree that online voter registration is a good idea — if it is done right. At least, that consensus emerged Tuesday during a House Elections Committee hearing on a bill that would authorize online registration and absentee ballot applications. Registering online is “user friendly, cheaper and more reliable” than filling out paper applications, said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins, the committee chairman and bill sponsor. Minnesota voters already can register electronically.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota panel that led a pilot project around an electronic voter verification process is urging the Legislature to authorize a more extensive study this fall.
Long lines at U.S. polling places could be shortened if state and local governments take actions such as allowing early voting and online voter registration, a presidential commission said Wednesday. Good ideas, Deputy Minnesota Secretary of State Beth Fraser said, adding that Minnesota already is making progress in key areas. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie implemented online voter registration last year, although Republican legislators, and some Democrats, say he should have received their approval before it launched.
A Minnesota task force studying a higher-tech voter verification process leaned away Monday from recommending that electronic poll books be mandatory in every precinct for the 2014 statewide election. Several panel members highlighted concerns over equipment costs, security protocols and timing while describing a full-scale rollout by next fall as a tall order.