Minnesota voters get new online tools

Minnesotans will have a new online option when they register to vote or update their existing registration.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced the launch of the system today, during National Voter Registration Month. There are now 15 states that offer online voter registration. The others are California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Ritchie said the move away from paper forms will be more convenient for voters and save time and money for local election officials. He also said it will mean fewer roster errors.

“You have the person filling in the form and then you have the typist entering the form,” Ritchie said. “So it could be that between messy hand writing and interpreting of handwriting that an error would get entered into the system.”

State lawmakers initiated the change 13 years ago as part of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. Ritchie said it was a slow but sure process.

“Computerization and computer security has both become less expensive and also more secure,” he said.  “So we’re also the beneficiaries in a sense of states who have a lot of experience with this, who’ve said here’s the most cost effective way to do this.”

Ritchie also announced the availability of absentee ballot applications for military and overseas voters. He said those voters will no longer need to print forms and return them by mail.

The new tools are accessible here.