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Secretary Ritchie oversteps his bounds on online voter registration

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dear Friends,

I wanted to update you on a recent controversy surrounding Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unilaterally implementing online voter registration here in Minnesota.

Earlier this month, the Secretary of State's office announced that they were opening online voter registration here in Minnesota. While it may sound like a good thing at face value, this was a shocking overreach on the part of Secretary Ritchie's office.

Simply put, the Secretary of State does not have the authority to unilaterally start a program such as online voter registration. With serious concerns and questions about data security and program oversight, it's a process that undoubtedly should have been enacted through the legislature.

Secretary Ritchie's actions have drawn near unanimous criticism from Democrats, Republicans, and the non-partisan legislative auditor.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles, stated he agreed with the conclusion reached by non-partisan House research that "implementing online voter registration through legislative enactment is the more sound legal approach to this type of policy change."

DFL Senator Katie Sieben, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on elections said the Legislature should have approved the new system, and intends to review the issue in 2014.

My colleague DFL Representative Steve Simon indicated he wanted to work with Senator Sieben and members of both parties in the legislature to write the bill to bring online voter registration to Minnesota.

My Republican colleagues in the House and Senate have joined the chorus calling for Secretary Ritchie to halt the program until it can be fully vetted by the legislature.

And most recently, Governor Dayton stated earlier this week he believed that the program should have gone through the legislature as well.

Republicans stand ready to work with legislators on both sides to make sure if we are to bring online voter registration to Minnesota that it is done properly, securely, and with proper oversight. I hope Secretary Ritchie will heed the calls of the Governor, Democrats, Republicans, and the legislative auditor to do this the right way -- and put a halt to the program in the meantime.

Take care,

Glenn

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