State House passes elections bill

The Minnesota House passed an omnibus elections bill today that would allow eligible voters to cast absentee ballots without stating a reason for not voting in person on Election Day.

The vote was 74-60, with only one two Republican joining Democrats on the prevailing side. That doesn’t appear to meet the “broad bipartisan support” standard that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he’ll require to sign election law changes.

In addition to no-excuse absentee voting, the bill includes higher thresholds for taxpayer-funded recounts, tighter controls over felon voting rights and a reduction in Election Day vouching.

There’s also a change in way statewide elections would proceed if a majority candidate dies or is incapacitated.

Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, said unlike the process that followed the death of U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002, the state would wait and hold a special election for the affected contest in February.

“That election would have been postponed. Not the whole general election obviously, but for that office,” Simon said. “We’d postpone it for three months in essence.”

The lone One of two GOP votes came from Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, who praised Simon for his bipartisan approach to the bill. But Sanders explained that while his fellow Republicans might like the House bill, they’re concerned with the Senate elections bill. That bill includes early voting and a June primary.

“When we look at the Senate provisions, my side of the aisle has a lot of cause for concern, as to what the bill coming back from conference committee could look like,” Sanders said.

Rep. Simon amended the bill to remove a provision linking Minnesota’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The House debated that proposal separately as a stand-alone bill. Simon said awarding the states electoral votes to the popular vote winner is a matter of fairness.

“In a number of occasions, the second-place votegetter won the presidency of the United States,” Simon said. “I don’t know how we explain it, but I know how we can fix it.”

Support and opposition for the change crossed party lines. The bill failed 62-71. But then House Majority leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, quickly resurrected the measure and send it to the House Rules Committee.

  • kohler

    A survey of Minnesota voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

    Support was 84% among Democrats, 69% among Republicans, and 68% among others.

    By age, support was 74% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 77% among 46-65 year olds, and 75% for those older than 65.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

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