Testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Elections
in Support of Early Voting
February 15, 2010
Good afternoon Madame Chair and members of the committee. My name is Laura Fredrick Wang and I am the legislative coordinator for the League of Women Voters Minnesota. We support early voting because we are committed to ensuring that the right to vote must be guaranteed and accessible for everyone.
In the days and weeks leading up to the election, we handled voter a large volume of phone calls from people seeking information on where and how to vote. A common question from those callers is "do we have early voting." And their follow-up question was often "why not." Many of these callers were hoping to vote early because their situation mirrored those of many other Minnesotans – they might have work schedules with uncertain travel schedules, they may be caring for an elderly parent and not know from day-to-day what the demands are on their time, or they may be dealing with their own health problems that make some days better than others to stand in line to cast a ballot.
Minnesota does allow voters with one of four valid excuses to vote by absentee ballot and this has become an increasingly popular way to cast a ballot. In 2008, nearly 300,000 Minnesotans voted via absentee. For some voters absentee voting is the only way they could cast a ballot but for many, like some of the callers that I previously spoke of, early voting would have been a better option. As we saw in the recount of the 2008 Senate election, the process for casting absentee ballots can be confusing and cumbersome and leads to a high rate of errors. Early voting could reduce the number of absentee ballots cast, and the number of errors. The election judges that are here today to testify will/have spoken in more detail about the problems this high rate of absentee ballots can cause on the administration end.
We urge the Legislature to allow Minnesota to join the 32 other states who already offer some form of early voting. In those states, voting early has increased in popularity and makes the way we vote more consistent with how many Americans live in the 21st century.
Joining me today is Geri Nelson, a member of the League of Women Voters Minnesota executive board who will also offer testimony. Thank you for your time.
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