When it comes to voting, Minnesota makes it easy. That was the headline in a November 2016 New York Times article about Minnesota's tradition of high voter participation. Some of the reasons cited in the story for high turnout were rooted in Minnesota values for effective government, community education and civic engagement. Also noted is "Minnesota’s voting laws have long focused on removing barriers. In 1974 it became just the second state to embrace same-day registration, which remains essential: In 2012, close to one in five voters registered on the day they cast their ballots."
Joan Growe, Minnesota's former Secretary of State (1975 to 1999) as a state legislator supported the Minnesota same-day voter registration law (the first in the country) and later, as Secretary of State, worked to implement it. At her side expanding voter participation in Minnesota was Joe Mansky, now Ramsey County Elections Manager.
In this conversation with Joan Growe and Joe Mansky we learn from the people who were there and made it happen about how Minnesota came to have such an envious system for engaging voters. It says something about "Minnesota values." It also says something about a moment in time in Minnesota politics. Some suggest Minnesota is lagging behind in modern election reform (e.g. automatic voter registration) while also being vulnerable to changes, such as voter ID, that have been shown to suppress voter participation.
MCF expects voting rights and suppression to be a high profile issue in both the 2018 legislative session and the 2018 elections. MCF public policy advocacy supports the goal of creating prosperity through inclusion and equity. To advance that goal, we support policies that strengthen democractic institutions and civic engagement, including advocating for policies that promote voting rights.
This Minnesota Votes: Minnesota Values and Opening Access to the Ballot program is the first in a two part series. The second is a panel presentation on February 16, Minnesota Votes: Protecting the Ballot for All. MCF will also feature Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America as a keynote speaker at its March 2018 conference.