News

Voting equipment issue comes to a head at legislature

Help America Vote Act appropriation to be considered

The state legislature will soon appropriate more than $36 million coming from the federal Help America Vote Act, mainly for new voting equipment. Unanswered is the question of whether that equipment will support ranked and cumulative ballots used in alternative voting methods increasingly being considered for use in elections around the state.

Legislation has been introduced to make sure that the one-time windfall of federal money will be spent on voting equipment that can be used with instant runoff voting and other methods. The provision was added to Senate File 290 before being passed from the Senate Elections Committee. It will next be heard by the Senate Finance Committee.

If last year's vote on a bill to allow Roseville to use instant runoff voting in a special election is any indication, the proposal's prospects are good in the Senate, but are in doubt in the House of Representatives, which defeated the Roseville proposal. The Secretary of State will play a significant role in writing the House version of the appropriations bill. That language has not been introduced yet, but will likely be attached to House File 622.

Pro-life legislators came under significant pressure from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) to vote against the Roseville bill. Legislators reported being told by MCCL representatives that the rating of their voting record on pro-life issues would include their vote on whether to allow Roseville to use instant runoff voting. However, when the ratings came out, the Roseville vote was not included.

Said FairVote legislative representative Bruce Kennedy, "This behavior will likely damage the MCCL’s credibility with the greater pro-life community and come to be seen as hubris."

It is not known whether the MCCL will oppose voting equipment compatible with instant runoff voting.

Background information on the voting equipment issue can be found at here and here that includes links to other pages.

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