GOP concerns unresolved after meeting with Ritchie

Three Republican lawmakers met privately today with DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to share their concerns about a new online voter registration system, which they want shut down.

Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, are among those who contend that Ritchie overstepped his authority by launching the system last month without approval from the Legislature. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton also said lawmakers should have approved the system.

Ritchie claims his action was allowed under a 13-year-old law dealing with electronic government transactions. But Hann said Ritchie did not share his legal analysis of that statue during the meeting.

“He seems to be alone in his view of the law, but he has yet to give us the analysis of the law that he’s resting on,” Hann said. “So were looking forward to that. But at this point he has declined to cease and desist, if you will, on his own. We were hoping he would agree that that’s the more prudent course, but he has declined at this point.”

Earlier this week, Ritchie suggested that the disagreement could be resolved by the judicial branch. Sen. Newman said he won’t accept what he called Ritchie’s “invitation to sue and go to court.”

“I think a much more prudent and better use of the public funds and public time would be to simply have the majority in the Senate and the majority in the House take action and have a public hearing on this matter,” Newman said. “I don’t think we have to have the judical branch involved at this point.”

Ritchie’s office provided a follow up letter sent to the lawmakers after the meeting. In it, Ritchie said he looks forward to a public hearing on the system. He also explained why the system should remain up and running.

“We will not take a step backward and prevent Minnesotans from registering to vote using an application that provides far greater security than that of the current paper registration system,” Ritchie wrote.