voting laws to remember in Minnesota

Are you familiar with current Minnesota voting laws or some of the proposed changes to voting laws in the future? The best way to protect your rights as a voter is to be informed, which is why we encourage you to visit our voting page for additional information on voting basics.

Current Minnesota Voting Laws

Some of the rights Minnesota voters have include:

  • The ability to take time off work to vote without sacrificing personal time, vacation time or losing wages
  • The opportunity to vote as long as you’re waiting in the voter line by 8 p.m. on Election Day
  • Being able to register on Election Day and having your vote counted
  • Signing in orally or having another person sign in for you if you’re unable to sign your name
  • People with disabilities like blindness or those who are unable to read or write can get assistance from the person of their choice (unless that person is an employer or union representative)
  • You can bring your children to the polls
  • Convicted felons can vote in Minnesota as long as they’ve finished all parts of their sentencing, including probation, parole and restitution (if applicable)
  • People under guardianship can vote in Minnesota unless a judge has specifically revoked their right to vote
  • It’s illegal for anyone to attempt to influence voters at Minnesota polling places in any way (such as intimidation, bribery or coercion)
  • Voters in Minnesota are entitled to a replacement ballot if they make a mistake
  • You can file a written complaint if you’re unhappy with how any aspect of the election is being run
  • You can take a copy of the Voter’s Bill of Rights into the booth with you

Proposed Changes to Voter Registration in Minnesota

After the 2020 election cycle, many states are grappling with partisan forces on both sides of the aisle attempting to modify voting laws. Minnesota has its own set of competing omnibus bills that include modifications to voting laws going through the State House and Senate.

Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout in the past three election cycles – 2016, 2018 and 2020 – with nearly 80 percent of all eligible voters in the state casting a ballot.

Under current laws, voters who register on Election Day in Minnesota can have their votes counted like normal. In 2020, almost 260,000 people registered to vote on Election Day. In 2016 it was even higher at 350,000 Election-Day voter registrations, which accounted for over 10 percent of all the votes cast that year.

A new bill floated by the state’s Republican-controlled Senate would have Election Day-registered votes be set aside and only counted after their address and eligibility requirements were verified by election officials. Under the Senate’s proposal, if a voter who registered or re-registered on Election Day had their ballot challenged, they would potentially need to show up in person with proof that they are eligible to vote.

Republicans aren’t necessarily saying the votes of Minnesotans who registered on Election Day shouldn’t be counted, but that they should be set aside for a week while their eligibility is determined.

On the other end of the political spectrum is the Democrat’s proposed modification that would automatically register eligible Minnesota adults to vote when they apply for either a state ID or a drivers’ license. Their proposal would include an “opt-out” not an “opt-in” feature for these automatic voter registrations.

Both of these election bills are attached to omnibus state government financing bills rather than their own separate laws. As of this writing, it’s the Senate Omnibus bill that includes the Election Day registration modifications, while the  House’s bill contains the automatic voter registration. What will end up happening in Minnesota on voter registration is unsettled, as this is still early days in the process.

Are You Concerned Your Civil Rights or Ability to Vote?

If you feel as if  your civil rights, including the ability to vote, have been violated and you believe you would benefit from legal representation, the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) may be able to assist in your search.

Our non-profit organization, sponsored by the Hennepin and Ramsey county bar associations, helps people find the right lawyers for their legal needs. You can schedule an initial consultation by visiting our website or you can speak with a lawyer referral counselor by calling (612) 752-6699.