Nelson: election bill undermines transparency and confidence in elections

Senator Carla Nelson
3 min readMay 17, 2024

The Minnesota Senate adopted an Elections Conference Committee Report early Thursday morning after a long, all-night session. Minnesota State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) issued the following statement:

“In our constitutional representative democracy, the integrity of elections is critically important, yet Wednesday’s partisan election bill fails to deliver on Minnesota’s tradition of bipartisan election law changes. The bill undermines transparency, confidence, and participation in our elections.”

A few of the most substantial changes to the bill since it left the Senate include:

  • Circumventing debate and scrutiny by adding elections finance provisions to the bill in the conference committee without first debating and passing it off the Senate Floor.
  • Removing the requirement that absentee ballot applications from outside groups disclose that the application is not from the government.
  • Stripping out an amendment that exempts subject matter experts from having to register as a lobbyist when sharing information with legislators. Advocates are concerned that this will discourage free speech, forcing business owners and other members of the public to register as lobbyists before being able to speak with legislators.
  • Including a House provision to add ranked choice voting as a possible remedy for a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The conference committee report was adopted on a party-line vote of 34–33.

VIDEO LINK: Senator Nelson’s floor comments.

TRANSCRIPT:

“In a constitutional representative democracy such as ours, the integrity of our election is critically important. And at a time like this, when there’s great distrust in the integrity of our elections all across the board, it’s more important than ever — than ever — that our elections are secure.

“Our previous governors have helped build that trust by requiring election laws be bipartisan. In contrast, though, today’s single-party control has delivered an election bill that fails to deliver on Minnesota’s long tradition of bipartisan election law changes.

“In addition, the bill includes costly burdens for local municipalities, troubling provisions that reduce public participation, and I believe it threatens to chill free speech in elections.

“We should be working to increase transparency, confidence, and participation in Minnesota elections. And this bill fails on all three marks.

“Most concerning, this bill creates costly requirements for counties and cities conducting elections, it leaves a heavy burden on local governments, it allows longer appointments more appointments to school boards and reduces the public input on elected officials for those school boards.

“So it’s especially troubling today to see that the conference committee report — it seems to have been used to skirt debate on the elections finance provisions that were instead dropped into this policy bill.

“So I believe that the full debate on the floor that we’ve had tonight does provide greater transparency to legislation. And it’s even more important when it comes to governing our elections. I encourage a red vote.”

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