Ritchie proposes easier voter registration

Secretary of State
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, shown with the Great Seal of the state of Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Sam Choo

If you're licensed to drive in Minnesota, you'd be automatically registered to vote, too.

That's the thrust behind one of several voter law proposals announced Wednesday by new Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Ritchie said his proposal would save counties time and money, and cut out "the hassle for citizens who have to stand in more lines and fill out more paperwork."

Ritchie, a Democrat, said the plan would to put Minnesota ahead of the registration curve by using driver's license and state ID card data to feed the state's voter database.

Along those lines, U.S. Postal Service information would be used to update voter files when people move.

As is done now, state courts records would be employed to flag felons who are ineligible to vote.

About 500,000 people who aren't currently registered or who wait until Election Day to sign up would be added to the state's voter lists, Ritchie adviser Beth Fraser said.

Under his plan, people could check a box on license applications if they don't want automatic registration. Older methods of registering to vote would remain intact, including the Election Day option.

Ritchie said he'll also explore online voter registration, an earlier state election primary than the current September vote and expanded mail balloting for rural communities.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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