Minnesota Legislature Passes Pro-Voting Reforms in Funding Bill
UPDATE: On Wednesday, May 24, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed House File 1830 into law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, April 20, the Minnesota Senate passed House File 1830, an omnibus state government funding bill that includes several pro-voting election reforms. The 182-page bill already passed the House, but lawmakers must agree on the differences between each chamber’s version before H.F. 1830 heads to Gov. Tim Walz (D) for his signature.
H.F. 1830 covers a range of spending priorities, but also outlines a handful of voting reforms. Election law changes incorporated within H.F. 1830 include:
- Establishing 18 days of in-person early voting. Currently, Minnesota has an early voting period of 46 days before Election Day, but the only options available during that time are sending in a mail-in ballot or filling out a mail-in ballot at an elections office.
- Restricting voter challenges, a process by which, under current Minnesota law, any eligible voter can challenge the eligibility of another voter. H.F. 1830 would ban mass challenges by requiring officials to reject any effort to challenge “the eligibility of more than one voter,” limit the time frame before an election and add new evidence expectations for the grounds of a challenge. “The filer has the burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the basis for challenging the individual’s eligibility to vote is valid,” the bill text reads.
- Joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an alternative to the Electoral College that would ensure that the winner of the national popular vote becomes president. Currently, 15 states and Washington D.C., accounting for 195 electoral votes, have signed onto the interstate agreement; it will take effect once states with 75 more electoral votes join. Once signed, Minnesota will move the compact 10 electoral votes closer to enactment.
- Expanding an employee’s right to take time off of work to vote at any point during the early voting period. Current statute gives workers the “right to be absent from work for the time necessary” to vote without lost wages or penalties on Election Day only.
- Including an additional option for students to prove residency for voting purposes using a “current valid photo identification issued by a postsecondary educational institution in Minnesota.”
- Adding new penalties for intimidation of election officials or interference with election administration.
H.F. 1830 is only one of several pro-voting priorities advanced by Minnesota’s new Democratic trifecta this session. In March, Walz signed a bill to restore voting rights to 56,000 Minnesotans with past felony convictions and in April, the Minnesota House advanced an omnibus pro-voting bill containing numerous reforms to expand voting access.