Occasionally, there are claims in Minnesota that same-day voter registration could lead to voter fraud. Today, it appears to be preventing fairly widespread voter disenfranchisement.
We’ve heard from a handful of people showing up to vote, only to be told they weren’t on the list of registered voters, even though — in many cases — they’ve voted before. That’s not a big deal — other than inconvenience — because Minnesota allows same-day registration.
I just talked to Csilla Szabo of Rochester, who says she’s still upset at her experience when she tried to vote at the People of Hope Church in Rochester around Midmorning. “I’ve been registered for two years, I went rhough the line and my name was not on the voter roll,” she said. “I had to re-register and it’s a good thing I had proper ID with me. I asked the election judge where I could file a complaint and she said she didn’t think there was any way for individuals to file a complaint.”
Ms. Szabo says while she was there, another couple had the same problem and the election judge told her that it’s happened to about 75 people at that voting place today. “When I submitted my ballot, I looked at the counter and it said 750 people had voted. That means more than 10-percent of the registered voters weren’t on the list.”
And that means were it not for same-day registration, 10 percent of the voters would be out of luck.
Her story is similar to others we’ve received. According to Ron Steinwall of Bloomington, for example, he checked to make sure he was registered in advance, and was told by officials in weeks leading up to today that he was. (Plus, he voted with no problems at same polling place in 2006). But today when he got there, his name not in rolls. He, too re-registered on the spot. Cathy Tripoliss of Chaska said she and her son registered in advance, but when they went to vote today, her name was listed, but not her son’s. He didn’t have the proper ID for same-day-registration, so he’ll have to go back and try again. MPR’s Molly Bloom just talked to Kassidy Stockman, who voted
in Edina at the Edina Community Center in Minneapolis at the Linden Hills Community Center (43rd and Xerxes). “She had voted there in the past and was not on the rolls this time. The election official told her she was not the first person who had this problem. Luckily, she had the right documentation to re-register but she’s concerned others didn’t. As she was leaving a poll challenger arrived. He walked to the front of the line and the election official told him to please go to back of the line. He announced he was a poll challenger and would challenge anyone who was being registering by being vouched for. As she left, he was hovering over a group of women registering to vote. She called 1-866-OUR-VOTE to complain.
The takeaway? Even if you think you’re a registered voter, take an ID to the polls with you. If you don’t, and there’s no time to go home and get one, you’ll be shut out.
About the blogger
Bob Collins has been with Minnesota Public Radio since 1992, emigrating to Minnesota from Massachusetts. He was senior editor of news in the ’90s, ran MPR’s political unit, created the MPR News regional website, invented the popular Select A Candidate, started several blogs, and every day laments that his Minnesota Fantasy Legislature project never caught on.
NewsCut is a blog featuring observations about the news. It provides a forum for an online discussion and debate about events that might not typically make the front page. NewsCut posts are not news stories.