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Minnesota House to Approve HAVA Funding, Elections Modifications

Monday, May 4, 2020

St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation allowing for the utilization of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds, and additional measures to ensure Minnesota’s elections remain safe and secure.

“Minnesotans deserve an election system that is safe to participate in and secure from hacking and foreign interference,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “I’m pleased we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement and use this federal funding for these critical needs.”

Following the 2016 elections and threats of foreign influence, the Department of Homeland Security designated elections as critical infrastructure, and the federal government disbursed grants to help states update and improve election security. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional funds were made available for virus-specific measures through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“This bill helps ensure Minnesotans can safely exercise their fundamental right to vote, even during a public health crisis,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Minnesotans rightfully expect to make their voices heard, and House DFLers will continue working to improve access to the ballot for everyone.”

In addition to improving accessibility and modernizing election security, HAVA funds will be used to ensure the health and safety of election officials and in-person voters. This includes preparation for increased absentee voting, new polling place locations, the purchase of sanitation and disinfectant supplies, and public outreach for implementing social distancing guidelines related to voting.

“Minnesotans hold their right to vote in high regard, which is why we continually lead the nation in voter turnout,” said Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL - Brooklyn Park), author of the bill and chair of the House State Government Finance Division. “The bipartisan steps made in this bill will better ensure that when Minnesotans go to the polls this year, they will be able to cast their votes in a safe and secure manner.”

The legislation can be found here, and video of today’s floor debate will be available here.

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