Minnesota Democrats renew calls for mail-in voting after election sickens 7 in Wisconsin

Minnesota Democratic lawmakers are renewing calls to send every registered voter a ballot by mail in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, pointing to Wisconsin as an example of what to avoid.

At least seven people were infected with the coronavirus in relation to Wisconsin's April 7 election, Milwaukee's health commissioner said this week.

Minnesota Democrats said the state should implement vote-by-mail for both the August and November elections.

"We don't know what the COVID-19 environment will be in August or November. We want to set up structures so Minnesotans won't have to choose between their health and the right to vote."

Republicans oppose vote-by-mail. Some have claimed that mail-in ballots will lead to more fraud, suggesting that fraudsters will raid mailboxes to find unmarked ballots. 

There is no evidence of fraud in rural Minnesota townships where vote-by-mail is already in effect.

GOP Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer said this month that the state should instead make absentee ballots immediately available. As it stands, Minnesotans can start requesting absentee ballots in mid-May.

Here's the main difference: under current law, Minnesotans who want to vote absentee must send in an application. Under the DFL proposal, ballots will be mailed to every registered voter automatically.

Minnesota election officials are predicting a huge influx of absentee ballots if the state doesn't go to mail-in balloting. Right now, an average of 24 percent of Minnesotans vote absentee.

Democrats said election workers will need more time -- up to one week after Election Day -- to process the flood of mailed ballots. That could delay election results.