YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 9

Minnesota Omnibus Voting Rights Act Origin: Minnesota State Legislature Bill Name/Number: S. F. No. 455 Link: Click here Summary: In addition to modifying various provisions related to the administration of elections – such as ballots, registration, election judges, and precincts – this bill was originally introduced to establish a true early voting system, pre-registration, automatic voter registration and restore voting rights to former felons. The linked text possesses all original provisions which were amended before passage. Talking Points & Important Information: • Civic participation and empowerment refer to when every citizen has the means to actively engage in the public sphere, including the political process. This means that all Americans, especially those from underserved and historically marginalized communities, are afforded equal access and equal voice; the electorate, and not an oligarchy, elects key decision-makers and public officials; the media are present, professional, and independent of Big Money interests; and government officials responsible for the administration of elections are equipped with the appropriate resources and training necessary to expeditiously facilitating each American’s vote. • However, civic participation in the United States remains dismal compared to other advanced democracies. According to a study by the Bipartisan Policy Center, low turnout, plus the denial of voting rights to youth, non-citizens, and many ex-felons, means that only 57.5 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2012 presidential elections, 93 million voters did not, and another 96 million residents were ineligible to vote. • Since 2008, states across the country have passed measures meant to make it harder for Americans – particularly the elderly, students, the differently-abled, and communities of color – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. These efforts include restrictive voter ID laws, cuts to early voting, inaccurate purging of voter rolls, and noncompliance with language access regulations. Through modernization, proper polling worker training, the establishment of permanent early voting days, and technology upgrades, we can ensure that every American is able to exercise the full dignity of their right to vote. • In the current system, the administration of elections, specifically the modes of registering and voting, have been frozen in time and contribute to dismally low voter turnout rates in general national, midterm, and local elections. With at least 84 percent of American adults using the internet, a more useful and egalitarian approach to votership would be to update the technologies throughout the democratic process – from registration to the polls themselves. 2015 POLICY BOOK STATE LEVEL PAGE 9