Voting & Election Administration
Voting is People Power
The League of Women Voters grew from the movement to secure for women the right to vote through the 19th Amendment. Now LWV works to secure for each citizen in every generation the right to vote as well. In the past, LWV has advocated for the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act. Today, LWV Minnesota advocates on a variety of issues to ensure access to the ballot and encourage voter participation in every election.
Support HF 45:
Automatic Voter Registration
Your Vote, Your Voice:
Voting Rights History
Restoration of Voting Rights
More than 53,000 Minnesotans are not able to vote because of a past felony conviction, yet live in our communities and pay taxes like any other eligible voter. The number of individuals disenfranchised has increased 400% since 1974, partly due to Minnesota's high ranking in the number of individuals per capita who are under community supervision (i.e., parole or probation).
Although felony disenfranchisement affects all communities in Minnesota, the policy has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Because Minnesota disproportionately incarcerates people of color, they are also disproportionately affected by this policy of disenfranchisement. Restoration of these voting rights would simplify our election administration. The moment a person leaves incarceration, voting rights would be immediately restored. Rather than allow the state to submit citizens to a "civil death," LWV Minnesota supports the restoration of voting rights to allow citizens living in the community on probation or parole to vote.
Ranked Choice Voting
LWVMN supports the option to use ranked choice voting (a.k.a., instant runoff voting) to elect state or local officials in single seat elections and continued use of the plurality voting system in our elections. This means that LWVMN supports allowing local communities the option to use ranked choice voting if they want it.
What can local LWVs do about ranked choice voting?
Local LWVs may advocate for the use of ranked choice voting in their local elections. Because LWVMN supports the option for local communities, local LWVs do not need to conduct separate/local studies to take action. They can take action if they believe there is member agreement within their local LWV to support ranked choice voting for local elections. Like with all state issues, advocacy on ranked choice voting for legislative, statewide or congressional elections must be directed through LWVMN.
Automatic Voter Registration
Automatic voter registration (AVR) is a system implemented by some states to streamline how voters register. Under AVR, citizens who are eligible to vote and interact with government agencies become registered to vote automatically unless the citizen declines. This practice makes it easier to register to vote and ensures that voter registrations are more likely to be up to date. AVR is more convenient for voters and less prone to errors. It also boosts registration rates, reduces (the already low) potential for voter fraud, and lowers costs of administering voter registration. Read The Case for Automatic Voter Registration by the Brennan Center for Justice to learn more about AVR. Learn more about AVR from our handout.
Provisional ballots are a "maybe pile" of votes. In states with provisional ballots, if a voter comes to a polling place but is not registered or is unable to prove their eligibility to vote, they may be given a provisional ballot. After election day, a panel of election officials determine and verify eligibility of the voter. Sometimes the panel cannot verify a voter's eligibility and the ballot is discarded without being counted. Often the voter is not notified and believes their vote was counted even if it was not. Sometimes a provisional ballot is rejected due to no fault of the voter and at the error of an election administrator. In some states, evidence demonstrates that provisional ballots are given more often to marginalized individuals and other commonly disenfranchised voters, such as college students, elderly, low-income, or people of color. For these reasons, provisional ballots should be avoided whenever possible.
Minnesota does not use provisional ballots because it has same-day registration. LWVMN opposes the implementation of provisional ballots. Our current voter registration system is one of the best in the county, and provisional ballots would be a step backward. For Minnesota, provisional ballots are a flawed solution to a non-existent problem. The current system determines voter eligibility without creating a "maybe pile" of ballots that might not be counted.
Photo ID Requirements
In 2012, Minnesotans rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required Minnesota voters to possess and display a government-issued ID at their polling place in order to vote. Opponents of the amendment demonstrated through studies of other states that photo ID requirements can prevent eligible voters from voting. Supporters of the amendment stoked people's fears about voting fraud, but no evidence demonstrates that voter fraud is frequent enough to justify a photo ID policy. Voter fraud is extremely rare. The number of individuals who would have been disenfranchised had the amendment passed would have been substantially more than any attempting fraud. LWVMN opposes policies that prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to vote.