Republicans to target Minnesota’s easy-to-vote laws

December 8, 2010

Times news services

Too easy, say some Republican leaders, who are taking aim at a number of Minnesota’s voting laws as they prepare to take control of both legislative chambers.

Several Republican leaders said last week that they hope to repeal several easy-to-vote laws, such as same-day registration and the practice of “vouching,” a mainstay weapon of Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts on college campuses that allows someone with no voter registration and no identification to vote.

Some of these laws — such as vouching — are being loudly questioned by Republicans during the recount between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer to determine the state’s next governor.

Those complaints might get even louder if Emmer loses the recount and decides to contest the election in a lawsuit. Either way, the recount and associated rhetoric and wrangling will serve as a springboard for the legislative agenda of Republicans, who have been quietly digging into the voting practices since Election Day.

“I’ve gotten 40 to 50 e-mails from constituents since the election,” said state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a Republican from Mazeppa. “We certainly know there are election laws being exploited.”

Voting-rights groups say Minnesota’s easy-to-vote laws are sound, and they point to a number of nonpartisan studies concluding that voter fraud is extremely rare.

Many political observers note that getting election laws changed is difficult without bipartisan support. Dayton is on the record as being opposed to some Republican-backed proposals, such as requiring photo identification to vote, but a spokeswoman said it was premature to discuss possible vetoes if he becomes governor.

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