Opinion: Cheers to a better election system in Minnesota

On Friday, Secretary of State Steve Simon celebrated the signing of the Democracy for the People Act — a top legislative priority for pro-democracy elections advocates in Minnesota.

Steve Simon
Steve Simon. (Forum News Service file photo)

Change has been a long time coming for Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, who has been pushing for expanded and improved voter access since his days in the State Legislature.

On Friday, Simon celebrated the signing of the Democracy for the People Act — a top legislative priority for Simon and other pro-democracy elections advocates.

"Today represents a once-in-a-generation achievement in expanding and protecting the freedom to vote in Minnesota," said Simon. "This law is what democracy for the people looks like."

Key voting reforms that Simon and others have spent years pushing for will now become law, including:

  • Automatic voter registration when people renew their driver’s license (they can opt out) or when they apply for MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance.
  • Pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, so they can vote as soon as they turn 18.
  • Penalties for those who knowingly push misinformation about Minnesota elections with the intent of impeding a Minnesotan's ability to cast their vote. It’s now a gross misdemeanor to knowingly spread false information intended to prevent someone from voting.
  • Creation of a permanent absentee ballot option. Voters can now have an absentee ballot automatically set to their home prior to the election, without having to request one every time.

The signing of the Democracy for the People Act is an important step in what is shaping up to be a big legislative session for pro-democracy elections advocates.
Legislation restoring voting rights to those who have left prison behind was signed into law in March.


And the new law adds disclosure requirements for all ads, fliers and mailings blatantly intended to influence voters, while also banning some political activity by corporations owned or influenced by foreign interests.

Lawmakers are now working on legislation that will strengthen protections for election workers from harassment, intimidation, and threats. Expansion of early voting options are also expected before the legislature concludes its work.

Representative democracy works best when more people get involved, take an interest in the issues, and participate at the ballot box. This legislation will allow more Minnesotans to do just that.

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