During State Gov debate, Democrats ignore years of tri-partisan election precedent, endorse prisoner voting, reject "Lori Swanson" amendment
ST. PAUL, MN—As part of their Omnibus State Government Finance bill (SF2227), Democrats advanced a hyper-partisan elections bill that ignores more than two decades of tri-partisan election policy precedent. During the debate, Democrats also endorsed the idea of allowing prisoners to vote, and rejected an amendment to prohibit Minnesota's constitutional officers from electioneering from their official office 60 days after the legislature adjourns sine die—the same restrictions in place for lawmakers.
"Democrats are advancing a hyper-partisan elections bill that rejects a precedent we've had under Republican, Democrat, and Independent governors," said Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, Republican Lead on the House Elections Policy Division. "I hope the Senate and Governor Walz will reject this divisive approach and continue Minnesota's long history of only approving election law changes with strong bipartisan support."
Governors dating back to former Governor Ventura have upheld a standard that requires changes to election law to receive broad bipartisan support in order to earn a governor's signature. Previous chairs of the House Elections Committee have advanced bills that have earned unanimous support coming out of committee, and only addressed changes with broad support from both parties. SF2227 includes controversial provisions including felon voting and National Popular Vote among others that have little or zero support from Republicans.
During the debate, Rep. Ray Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, also voiced support for an idea endorsed last week by Democrat Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders to allow currently-incarcerated individuals to retain their right to vote, a concept that has divided even other Democrat presidential candidates.
The A29 amendment to SF2227 would prohibit constitutional officers from engaging in political activity from their official office 60 days after the legislature adjourns sine die. It also prohibits state Constitutional office employees from engaging in political activity during business hours including "design or production of campaign materials," "participating in campaign planning or training for candidates," "preparing a written campaign plan for a candidate," and more. The amendment came after reports about state employees engaging in campaign activity for former Attorney General Lori Swanson.