Minnesota Secretary of State seeks 2020 election changes amid pandemic

The Minnesota Secretary of State will be introducing a bill that would allow temporary changes to conduct an election this year that allows for social distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon will testify Wednesday morning before the Minnesota House Subcommittee on Elections.

“The administration of elections has become a public health issue. Minnesotans should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Secretary Simon in a press release. “After talking with elections professionals from all levels of government throughout the state, the goal became very clear to me: we need to minimize exposure at polling places and maximize voting by mail.”

If passed, Minnesota's 2020 elections would allow for the following temporary, one-time changes:

  • Each registered voter will automatically receive a ballot in the mail
  • Witness signature will be required for voting
  • Reduction in number of polling places on Election Day
  • Extra time allotted for elections administrators to process ballots

"The election in Wisconsin, with its reduced polling places and unacceptably long lines, is a glimpse of what could happen in Minnesota if we fail to change our laws temporarily," said Simon in a press release. "This is a time for legislative cooperation, not political games."

The bill would also allow the Secretary of State's office to change polling place locations, since many are located in vulnerable location like senior care facilities, accept candidate filings by email, fax or mail and accept ballot-access petitions with digital signatures.