Native Americans living on three Minnesota reservations will have a easier time voting early this year.

The Minnesota DFL party has been working with tribal leaders at the Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake reservations and five Minnesota counties to open satellite early voting locations.

Native Americans living on reservations frequently have to go long distances to vote and some may not have cars, Minnesota DFL coordinated campaign director Jim Nyland said.

“There’s a real barrier to native American residents on the reservations to have access to early voting,” he said. “This is unprecedented that we have five counties that have agreed to do satellite voting locations on the reservations themselves.”

Nyland wouldn’t predict how many reservation residents would vote early. But he said that historically, Native American voters have supported DFL candidates.

This is the first year Minnesotans can vote early without needing an excuse.

Starting on Sept. 19, Minnesotans can vote early by mail or in person for the general election.

In his latest ad, Republican Senate hopeful Mike McFadden is employing a classic campaign tactic against Sen. Al Franken by linking him to an unpopular president.

The ad features a Franken look-alike unsuccessfully backing a boat into a Minnesota lake.

“Al Franken keeps missing the mark,” the ad states.

 “Franken has a 97 percent voting record with President Obama, over 40 votes for higher taxes. And Franken cast the deciding vote for Obamacare.”

Like many stories told near boat landings, McFadden’s ad stretches the truth.

 The Evidence

Since Franken became a senator in 2009, he has supported Obama an average of 97 percent of the time. That’s based on an annual scorecard produced by Congressional Quarterly.

And in some cases, Franken has voted for new tax increases or to preserve taxes. For instance, he voted for the Affordable Care Act, which includes new taxes on medical devices and on very generous health insurance plans. (Now, Franken says the device tax should be repealed.)

But most of the votes McFadden’s campaign cites are procedural. For instance, Franken voted in favor of tabling an amendment to the health care law that would have refunded fuel taxes for mobile mammogram vehicles. McFadden calls that a tax increase.

In other cases, Franken voted against tax cut amendments to a budget resolution – a non-binding budget blueprint that can’t be enforced by law.

So, to say that Franken voted 40 times for tax increases is a big stretch.

Finally, Franken’s role in passing the Affordable Care Act is a matter of debate.

After a protracted recount, Franken was sworn into office in July 2009, giving Senate Democrats the 60-person super majority they needed to avoid a filibuster over the health care bill.

But as the Star Tribune points out in a detailed timeline, Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy died a month later and his replacement could have “just as easily be considered the ‘60th vote,’” as could other Senators who held out until they were satisfied with the bill.

Ultimately, the version of the bill that became law in the spring of 2010 was passed in the Senate by 56 votes, with Franken voting in favor.

The Verdict

There’s some truth to McFadden’s ad. On average, Franken votes in favor of Obama’s priorities most of the time. And Franken’s support of the Affordable Care Act was important (though other Senators could carry the distinction of being the bill’s “deciding vote,” too).

But the ad is ultimately misleading because it inflates the number of times Franken voted for tax increases by counting procedural votes and votes on non-binding bills.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis has decided not to stop a unionization election among state-subsidized personal care assistants.

Davis issued an order today denying the motion from union opponents for a preliminary injunction. Those opponents are suing state officials, claiming that the election now underway among 27,000 in-home health care workers is unconstitutional. They argue it violates their right of free political expression and association.

Davis said the election must proceed.

“The court will not interfere with an ongoing election based on plaintiffs’ fear about what the outcome of that election might be,” he wrote. “Based on a legally enacted Minnesota law, homecare providers have the right to vote in the current secret ballot election to determine whether a majority desire SEIU to be their exclusive representative.”

Davis also described the challenge as premature.

“If after all the votes are counted, the SEIU is certified as the exclusive representative, plaintiffs may renew their challenge to that certification to this court,” he wrote.

The ruling came a day after a hearing on the motion.

Nine home-based PCAs who care for family members filed the lawsuit against state officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton, and the Service Employees International Union. Dayton signed the unionization bill in 2013, and SEIU is backing the organization effort.

The state Bureau of Mediation Services is scheduled to count the election ballots on Aug. 26.

Meanwhile, another group of PCAs filed a second lawsuit this week aimed at trying to stop the unionization effort. Six personal care assistants –Kristina Greene, Joan Spiczka, Paula Fleming, Patrick Fleming, Cindy Lindbloom and Maria Zimmerman – claim state officials are violating the National Labor Relations Act.