The Right to Vote
The League of Women Voters believes that every citizen should be protected in the right to vote...
LWV of the United States Principles
The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed.
LWV of the United States Impact on the Issues 2016-2018
Support improvements in election laws regulating election procedures, voting, and school district elections.
LWV Minnesota Program for Action 2017-2019
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.
Restoration of Voting Rights
Currently 47,000 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 felon disenfranchisement affects all communities in Minnesota, the policy has a disproportionate impact on communities of color because of their disproportionate rate of incarceration. Restoration of these voting rights would simplify our election administration. The moment one leaves prison, it would be understood 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.
Automatic Voter Registration
Automatic voter registration (AVR) is a system implemented by some states to increase the number of individuals registered to vote. 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 convienent for voters and less prone to errors. It also boosts registration rates, reduces (the already low) protential for voter fraud, and sometimes lowers costs of administering voter registration. Read The Case for Automatic Voter Registration by the Brennan Center for Justice to learn more about AVR.
Early voting allows voters to cast their ballot in person prior to Election Day on the same voting equipment as those used on Election Day. In 2014, Minnesota enacted no-excuse absentee voting. While this extends voters' ability to cast their votes early, their ballot is still considered an absentee ballot and is not counted immediately. Early voting also takes less administrative time and paperwork for the counties and the voter than no-excuse absentee voting. For example, voters don't have to file for an absentee ballot. In the past, LWV Minnesota has supported a system whereby two weeks prior to Election Day, voters would be able to cast their ballot in person and have their ballot counted the moment it is received.
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 eligiblity 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 provisinal 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 disenfrachnises voters who are college students, elderly, low-income, or of color. For these reasons, provisional ballots should be avoided whenever possible.
Minnesota does not use provisional ballots because it has same-day registration. LWV Minnesota 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. 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. LWV Minnesota opposes policies that prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to vote.
In addition to protecting the right to vote, LWV Minnesota studies other issues related to election administration and the voting process. In 2009, LWV Minnesota published a briefing paper on absentee ballots. LWV Minnesota also published a study on alternative voting systems in 2004, including information on instant runoff voting, also known as ranked choice voting.