UPDATE: On Friday, May 5, Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed House File 3, the “Democracy for the People Act,” into law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, April 26, the Minnesota Senate passed House File 3, the “Democracy for the People Act,” sending the omnibus pro-voting bill to Gov. Tim Walz (D). The bill narrowly passed the Democratic-controlled Senate 34 to 33 on Wednesday evening; on April 13, H.F. 3 passed the House 70 to 57. Walz has already promised to sign H.F. 3 into law, fulfilling a campaign promise “to put up a firewall to keep Minnesota’s elections safe, free, and fair.”
H.F. 3 would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, establish automatic voter registration at many state agencies, strengthen penalties for voter intimidation and deception, expand language access in voting materials and more. Additionally, H.F. 3 would permit voters to opt in to a permanent absentee voter list where voters will automatically be sent a mail-in ballot every election.
The introduced version of the bill also included a provision to restore voting rights to people on felony probation or parole, but the Minnesota Legislature accelerated a separate bill to tackle the issue earlier this spring, restoring voting rights to over 50,000 Minnesotans.
“I don’t think any one policy is a silver bullet to getting us to the inclusive, multiracial, multigenerational, regionally-diverse democracy that we’re trying to build,” Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL), a former voting rights lawyer and sponsor of the bill, told Democracy Docket in January. “We’re not going to nibble around the margins…It really is about this much more comprehensive approach to strengthening the freedom to vote, people’s belief in the system and their belief in democracy.”
H.F. 3 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 last week, the Legislature advanced a state government funding bill that includes more election reforms.