Noting that election integrity and transparency are essential to democracy, Governor Pawlenty recently took steps to prevent voter fraud and ensure the legitimacy of elections in Minnesota. The Governor’s Voter Security Initiative will improve the state’s electoral system.
“Evidence has recently been discovered suggesting that non-citizens are registering and voting in Minnesota elections. These cases highlight a threat to the legitimacy of our democracy and the need for change,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Our citizen verification system needs an upgrade. We need a voting system that makes it easy to vote but hard to cheat.”
Since the last statewide general election, the Secretary of State’s Office has evidence that 32 non-citizens registered to vote and 11 of these individuals voted. All of these suspected cases were referred to the respective county attorneys’ offices for investigation and prosecution.
In response to these and other potential fraud cases, the Governor’s Voter Security Initiative includes:
Citizenship Verification – The Governor is directing the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services to routinely share citizen status check information from driver’s licenses, permits and identification cards with the Secretary of State’s office’s voting database to determine possible voter fraud. Minnesota will be one of the only states in the country to verify voters’ citizenship status.
Photo Identification – The Governor is also seeking legislation to require election judges to confirm voters’ identities by asking them to show a picture ID card issued by a federal, state or recognized tribal government before casting their vote. To ensure polling access, some exceptions are provided and free IDs would be made available. The Governor’s plan also includes several exemptions for persons who, despite the availability of free IDs, do not possess the required photo identification on Election Day.
“Effective, accurate and lawful voter registration and voter identification are the foundation of our representative democracy,” Governor Pawlenty said.