Overseas Voters Up 400%

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 6:28 am

ST. PAUL, MN – During the 2006 election, prior to the passage of Rep. Jeremy Kalin’s (DFL – Chisago County) 2008 Military and Overseas Voting Act (SF1218/HF1259), only 19 percent of absentee votes cast by Minnesotans in the military were counted. Thanks to the Kalin / Erickson Ropes law, the success rate tripled in 2008, and the total number of ballots counted from military and overseas voters increased over 400%.

“In past elections, Minnesota’s servicemembers were being denied the right to vote because of red tape and outdated laws,” said Rep. Jeremy Kalin, the chief-author of the House bill in 2008. “Working with the Pentagon and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, we gained a bipartisan solution to ensure that our defenders of democracy will get their votes counted. But there’s still more work to do.”

Monday, February 23, Rep. Kalin introduced House File 1010, to enact a Pentagon initiative that was not enacted in 2008. Kalin and Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes are teaming up again on the initiative with the Department of Defense and Secretary Ritchie. Another partner has joined the effort this year. Former Secretary of State and now State Representative Mary Kiffmeyer (R – Big Lake) is co-authoring HF 1010. The bill would give American citizens born abroad to Minnesota parents the right to vote in federal races only, as 18 other states allow. Currently, these American citizens are disenfranchised and unable to cast a ballot.

“The recent US Senate recount has put Minnesota’s elections system under the microscope revealing its many strengths, as well as needed areas of improvement,” said Rep. Kalin. “Our voting system is strong, but there is always room for improvement. We need to be diligent in our efforts to ensure Minnesotans have fair and easy access to voting, and ensure their votes are counted accurately.

“Because of the reforms we passed last year, hardly any ballots in question during the Senate recount have been from military or overseas voters. The 2008 reforms made great strides in ensuring all citizens have their right vote, and our 2009 bill is the next logical step.”

(From Office of Rep. Jeremy Kalin)

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