Politics and Government

Thousands registered to vote since launch of Minnesota’s automatic voter registration system

People in a press conference
Officials from the Department of Public Safety and Minnesota Secretary of State’s office speak at a press conference highlighting the state’s new automatic voter registration system at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety on Tuesday.
Ellie Roth | MPR News

Since automatic voter registration launched in late April, the state says some 15,000 eligible Minnesotans have been registered to vote while renewing a state-issued ID, like a driver’s license.

Legislation passed last year paved the way for the Department of Public Safety to build an automatic voter registration system.

In a news conference marking the rollout, Secretary of State Steve Simon praised the new system saying it ”strengthens election security and increases voter access.”

Previously, applicants needed to opt-in for voter registration by checking a box on their driver’s license renewal form. Now the registration process will be automatic without any extra steps required of eligible voters.

“The process shifts the responsibility of registration from voters to elected officials,” said Simon, who added that voter eligibility will be determined by multiple layers of review and verification by the Secretary of State’s office in partnership with local election officials.

He estimates the new system could register 120,000 Minnesotans by election day.

The system also pre-registers 16 and 17-year-olds applying for their first driver’s license, or other state-issued ID. Since April, 13,000 teens have been pre-registered to vote.

Minnesotans can choose to opt-out of automatic voter registration. Anyone determined eligible and automatically registered to vote will receive a letter in the mail with the option to mail a form back to the Secretary of State indicating a desire to opt-out of the system.

Twenty-three other states and the District of Columbia have automatic voter registration systems in place.