Bill at Capitol restricts who can help people vote

If you’re a voter and need help marking a ballot in Minnesota, you can forget about asking a family member or friend to help you.

A Minnesota lawmaker today proposed a bill that would only allow election judges to complete a ballot on behalf of a voter using an absentee ballot in a hospital or care facility.

Under Sen. Scott Newman’s proposal, an absentee ballot can only be delivered by two election judges — members of different political parties — traveling together by car.

It also changes who can mark the ballot of a voter…


The person who assists the voter shall, unaccompanied accompanied by an election judge, retire with that voter to a booth and mark the ballot as directed by the voter. No person who assists another voter as provided in the preceding sentence shall mark the ballots of more than three voters at one election. Before the ballots are deposited, the voter may show them privately to an election judge to ascertain that they are marked as the voter directed.

Under present law the only people who can’t help someone mark a ballot are the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, an officer or agent of the voter’s union, or a candidate for election.

Sen. Newman did not immediately return a call from MPR News for an explanation of the reason for his bill (Update 4/14 11:13 a.m. - Sen. Newman’s office said he would not do an interview because of the Passover recess) , but it appears to address a dust-up in Crow Wing County in the last election in which a voter alleged fraud by residents and staff of a group home:

FoxNews reported earlier this month that the father of one of the voters says his son was too incompetent to vote.

  • John O.

    Given Newman’s track record so far for avoiding the press like the bubonic plague, don’t hold your breath waiting for a response. He’s just another politician feeding his ego with each introduced bill.

  • Snyder

    My grandmother suffered a stroke three months ago that has taken away the use of her right hand. Since she’s right-handed, this could pose a real problem for her ability to mark a ballot. She already had limited mobility and so has voted absentee for the past several years.

    However, she’s still perfectly capable of telling me or another family member who she wants to vote for so we can mark a ballot for her. Why Sen. Newman wants to prevent her from doing that makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

    Between this and his declared war on non-profits, this guy seems to have a real political death wish.

  • http://linkert.name gml4

    Interesting to see families arguing their family members shouldn’t have the right to vote.

    Think about it though… if staff at the home are taking residents to vote, and a certain individual indicates a desire to vote, who are they to stop them?

    Tough call.

    As an election judge, and as a parent of a child with disabilities, I have concerns about the proposed law. What if the judge doesn’t understand what the voter is saying?

  • Bob Moffitt

    “FoxNews reported earlier this month that the father of one of the voters says his son was too incompetent to vote.”

    My father says the same thing about me, but I vote anyway. (g)