MN's Election System
MN Turnout in 2008 was Top in the Nation at 77.8%
Since 1980, Minnesota's voter turnout has topped the nation's by an average of 17%, and our state has come in first in voter turnout more often than any other. The ideal for a democracy is for each citizen to have one vote. As more citizens are able to participate in selecting their elected officials, we come closer to this ideal.
What makes Minnesota's high turnout possible?
First, Minnesota has a user friendly voting system which minimizes barriers to voting and uses election day registration. In 1974 Minnesota started using what is called "same day registration," which allows voters to register and cast their vote on the same day. It worked so well in Minnesota that 9 other states copied the system. Those states also have a higher voter turnout, one that is 10 to 12 percent higher than states without same day registration.
Beth Fraser, Director of Governmental Affairs in the MN Secretary of State's Office notes that MN has not just one of the best, but the best election system in the country. In an eleven minute video, she explains how MN's centralized database for registered voters works, including how mistakes are corrected; how the voter registration database is updated from information from the Social Security, Driver and Vehicle, Postal Change of Address, list of felons who have not had their voting rights reinstated, and list of residents who are not citizens; and how ineligible voters are turned over to county attorneys for further investigation. Watch her video.
See Safeguards in Minnesota's Election System for a fact sheet from the Minnesota Secretary of State.
Greater Participation Means Better Government
Reporting on Norm Ornstein's recent book It's Even Worse Than It Looks, Lori Sturdevant was relieved to discover Ornstein still holds a Minnesota notion: "If more people voted and helped choose candidates, this state and nation would be better governed."
Ornstein notes that the Amendment is presented under the pretext of guarding against fraud. "It's a pretext to try to narrow voter participation." In a recent talk at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Ornstein and his coauthor Thomas Mann cautioned Minnesotans to resist the Amendment which would replace election day registration with provisional balloting, that Drs. Ornstein and Mann referred to as a terrible process which "can be manipulated by partisan election officials." They recommend increasing voter turnout and ranked choice voting as ways to move from partisan extremes. Read Lori Sturdevant's article: "Voter ID as written is just not our style."