Minnesota Secretary Of State - Secretary Simon Introduces Plan For Elections in a Pandemic
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Secretary Simon Introduces Plan For Elections in a Pandemic

April 7, 2020

Tomorrow, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon will appear before the House Elections Committee to introduce a bill that would give the Secretary of State’s Office temporary expanded authority to ensure the conduct of safe elections during this time of pandemic emergency.

“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. “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 the bill were enacted, Minnesota’s elections for 2020 would include the following temporary, one-time changes:

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

“I hope we can all rise to the moment," Secretary Simon said. “People will look back at this time and wonder what we did to make things better - and whether we put others before ourselves and our own interests. Now we need to look to solutions that match the scope and scale of the problem.”

Secretary Simon will testify on the need for these changes in the House Subcommittee on Elections tomorrow morning. Other provisions in the bill would grant the Office authority to:

• Change the location of polling places, many of which are in vulnerable locations like senior care facilities
• Accept candidate filings by email, fax, or US Mail, instead of in-person
• Accept ballot-access petitions with digital signatures 

"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. "This is a time for legislative cooperation, not political games."

What: Secretary Simon to walk through a bill for election administration during a pandemic, in an informational hearing, with media availability to follow via conference call

When: 9:45 a.m., Wednesday, April 8

How to view: View live via MN House Media or YouTube