House begins debate on changes to election rulesThe Minnesota House of Representatives began debating Wednesday night a bill authored by Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, that would allow early voting, move primary elections to June and change the way absentee ballots are handled.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
The Minnesota House of Representatives began debating Wednesday night a bill authored by Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, that would allow early voting, move primary elections to June and change the way absentee ballots are handled.
“Because of the Senate recount and the closeness of the election there was clarity about some aspects of Minnesota statute that I think should be updated or changed,” Sieben said. “These are provisions that aren’t necessarily controversial.”
One provision of the bill, Senate File 1331, would allow early voting starting 18 days before an election. Under the current text of the bill, early voting would have to be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during that time period, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on at least one of those days and from 8 a.m. to noon on at least one Saturday.
Sieben said 31 other states already have some form of early voting, and the change would shorten lines on election day and reduce the number of people submitting absentee ballots, which are more likely to be rejected than a regular ballot.
The bill would also require that anyone whose absentee ballot is rejected more than five days before the election be sent a new ballot.
“In the last election we saw where perhaps people forgot to sign the absentee ballot form or there was some other oversight on behalf of the voter and then their votes were just not counted,” Sieben said.
Another provision in the bill would move up primary elections from September to June to give voters more time to focus on the differences between the endorsed candidates, and to give military and other overseas residents more time to vote absentee, Sieben said.