Editorial Roundup: Make voting easy in state, protect poll workers

Published 8:49 pm Friday, January 13, 2023

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We’ve long advocated to make voting easier, secure and credible in Minnesota. Now, the Legislature can make it happen and we wholeheartedly support the effort.

With the DFL in charge of the House, Senate and governor’s office, the time has come to secure voting rights far into Minnesota’s future. It’s unfortunate the Republican Party in past few years has stonewalled DFL efforts, for example, to make it easier to vote and register to vote. The Minnesota GOP was walking lockstep with an out of touch national party that was successful in making it more difficult to vote in many states.

That was a shameful effort that we continue to decry.

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Democrats unveiled their plans last week to allow automatic voter registration when one renews or gets a drivers’ license, allows for 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register and allows people to be put on a list to get a mail-in ballot every year. The bill would also protect election workers who’ve been the target of disinformation campaigns and threats by dangerous election deniers.

While Democrat, and all political parties for that matter, often claim a “mandate” for this policy or that policy, voters clearly did report to credible media that many feared restrictions on voting brought on by Republicans. They liked easy registration in Minnesota and the ease of voting and as a result completely shut out Republicans from positions where they might influence this. Minnesota elections are one of the most secure in the country and the highest voter turnout rates show voters believe that.

Minnesota Republicans have criticized the DFL proposals citing unwritten rules that election law changes should be bipartisan. But here’s why that train has left the station:

The Republican National Committee in last year’s election filed 73 suits in 20 states and hired 37 lawyers to challenge all manner of voting that has been the staple of American democracy for decades. The RNC has said it has trained 5,000 volunteers to look for voter fraud.

And any meaningful voter fraud is non-existent.

Now Republicans should embrace the DFL voting access changes and protection for election workers. The last time voting in Minnesota was expanded — through no-excuse needed absentee ballots, it passed with a bipartisan support under former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

But today’s Republican Party is unrecognizable compared to the one of the past. The Republican Party backed major statewide candidates and dozens of others who were election deniers.

Democrats are on the right track to expand voting rights, make it easier to vote yet still very secure and they should move forward without Republicans.

—Mankato Free Press, Jan. 9

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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