PRESS RELEASE

April 9, 2020

DFL Legislators Announce Plan to Protect Elections from COVID-19

Today, Representative Jamie Long, Senator Nick Frentz, and DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin announced their “Defending Democracy” plan, a set of legislative proposals designed to ensure that all eligible voters can safely cast ballots during the COVID-19 outbreak. The entirety of the plan they released can be viewed here. The proposal includes the following measures:

Ballots

  • Top recommendation: Send every registered Minnesota voter an absentee ballot, including pre-paid postage for return;
  • Accept all absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day rather than those that are received by Election Day;
  • Allow individuals and community organizations to assist voters complete, then collect and deliver, sealed ballots;
  • Allow individuals on Minnesota’s eleven reservations to serve as witnesses for absentee ballots, even if the individuals lack a street address.

Polling Locations

  • Top recommendation: Enact a true early vote system so that voters may cast their ballot in-person for the forty-six days prior to Election Day, removing the additional step of filling out an absentee ballot application;
  • Assist the counties and cities that run elections so that they may have more early- and Election Day polling locations in order that the number of people waiting in line to vote in-person will be reduced;
  • Extend the May 1 deadline for major political parties to submit the names of those who will serve as election judges, providing time to recruit younger people to operate our elections, which rely on nearly 30,000 workers;
  • Assist municipalities and counties to place ballot drop-boxes outside of local government buildings;
  • Work to ensure that all polling locations are sanitized to protect voters and election judges.

Registration

  • Send a voter registration form, together with an application for an absentee ballot, to every unregistered Minnesotan who is eligible to be a voter, including pre-paid postage for return.

“During this time of fear and uncertainty, the last thing Minnesotans should have to worry about is their right to vote,” said Representative Jamie Long. “The best way to ensure that every eligible Minnesota voter is able to cast their ballot is to make it easy to vote by mail this election. This has worked well for other states, and will avoid undemocratic and dangerous elections like we saw this week in Wisconsin.”

“Throughout our nation’s history, so many brave Americans have sacrificed so much to establish and defend our democracy,” said Senator Nick Frentz. “The least we can do to honor that sacrifice and live up to the ideals in our Constitution is take action to protect our freedom to vote. I hope my colleagues in both parties will join me in supporting these proposals and working to ensure that our electoral infrastructure is ready for whatever comes our way in August and November.”

“Nobody should have to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot,” said DFL Chairman Ken Martin. “We don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last or whether we’ll face a second outbreak this fall, as some medical experts have predicted. Our primary is 124 days away, early voting starts in just 78 days, and we will need to begin training folks and printing ballots in early May. These changes will take time to implement, so we must act now if we are going to defend our democracy from the worst public health crisis in a century.”

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