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Current programming by the League of Women Voters Eastern Carver County (LWVECC) focuses on issues at the core of democracy.

The LWVECC is particularly excited to invite the general public to hear Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon speak on his agenda “Investing in Democracy.” The talk is 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at Crown of Glory Church, 1141 Cardinal Street, Chaska. Secretary Simon invites audience questions.

Secretary Simon states that “Investing in Democracy” means “devoting resources to strengthen Minnesota’s nation-leading systems and the Minnesotans who rely on them.”

This proposal focuses on maintaining Minnesota’s role in protecting and advancing democratic institutions like the right to vote for all.

There are four key components on this agenda: increased security; decreased barriers to voter registration; restoration of voting rights to those formerly incarcerated; and protecting voter privacy.

Two issues of special interest to Minnesotans are cyber security and the presidential nomination primary.

Cyber security: Minnesota is the only state in the nation allocated money ($6.6 million dollars) through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that has not had its allotment released to address election security.

The fund was not allocated for use by the Minnesotan Legislature in the last session and was not available in time for the 2018 election. This investment in election security is expected to be supported by both parties, early in this year’s session as a way to increase security preparations.

Protecting voter privacy: The presidential primary law for 2020 requires that voters disclose to election officials the party ballot that they choose.

Secretary Simon opposes this because “Minnesota’s registration system has never required a voter to state a party affiliation.”

“The legislature created a back-door system of party registration” when they passed this law. He is calling for the Legislature to repeal the public disclosure portion of this law.

In addition to privacy concerns, this law causes increased costs to local and municipal taxpayers through adding the costs of presidential caucuses that were traditionally covered by the individual parties.

Secretary Simon has offered to work with both parties to help legislators find a less costly solution that addresses both issues.

Restoration of voting rights: Secretary Simon speaks to the importance of the restoration of voting rights to formerly incarcerated felons. Approximately 60,000 Minnesotans are currently banned from voting because they have not had their civil rights restored upon release.

“We have a law that says a person is safe enough to live in our community, but still too dangerous to be a voter,” said Secretary Simon. “That’s ridiculous. Shutting out those who have already done their time does not make us safer. Investing in democracy means investing in Minnesotans working to rebuild their lives to ensure they have a voice in the community.”

Secretary Simon proposes making Minnesota the 17th state to restore voting rights when a person is released from prison back into the community.

Decreased barriers: Secretary Simon promotes Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) and also speaks of the need to start education on voting at a young age. Some of these issues, particularly around making the act of voting accessible to citizens, point to what makes Minnesota a leader in the nation on voter participation.

Minnesota is a very civically engaged state, one of the most, so engaged, in the nation. This may be due to voter’s confidence and the integrity of our system. The Secretary of State office said around 30,000 Minnesota citizens volunteer as election judges.

Issues at the heart of vote security have been very high profile in recent years so the LWVECC is especially pleased for this opportunity to share Secretary Simon’s plans, to support and protect the democracy, with the community. He is a fount of knowledge about issues important to the smooth running of our treasured democratic processes. His presentations are interesting and use clear easily understood communication and facts that assist in promoting greater understanding of these issues and their importance to the democracy.

Sharon Moeller is a member of the League of Women Voters Eastern Carver County and a Chaska resident.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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