The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 9, 2014

Our View: Voting system deserves top ranking

Why it matters: Minnesota has a strong tradition of voting participation and access

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Minnesotans were probably not surprised by the recent recognition that Minnesota is ranked in an elite top spot for its voting system and voter participation.

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently announced its Election Performance Index and put Minnesota as the second best state in the country for voter participation and all the tools and procedures that make it possible. North Dakota was ranked first and Wisconsin third.

The state’s residents have a long history of high voter turnout. There have been very few major vote counting or election mishaps. Voter fraud is very rare. There appears to be strong confidence among residents that the system has integrity and is highly accurate.

Pew said the high ranking was based on Minnesota’s high voter turnout rates and election-day registration access as well as strong online tools to assist voters. The state also was recognized as only one of seven nationwide in the top tier for the last three elections from 2008 to 2012.

The Pew Election Performance Index measures waiting times at polls, rejection of absentee and military ballots, problems with absentee ballots or registration, ballot-counting accuracy, voting technology and online voting tools.

Minnesota’s strong voting process and election administration can be attributed to a bipartisan coalition of elected officials who not only devised the system from the beginning but also helped improve it along the way. The voting public has been the focus. We’ve crafted our election process from easy same-day registration to a strong system of vote auditing with a focus on user friendly systems that can stand up to tough scrutiny.

The Pew report lauded Minnesota’s highest in the nation turnout of 78 percent in 2008 and 76 percent in 2012. The rate of nonvoting due to registration or absentee ballot problems was second lowest in the country in 2008 and 2012.

Minnesota’s same day registration, available since 1974, has a high participation rate of half a million people. Minnesota also had online tools to help people check their registration, their absentee ballot, polling place location and also offers viewing of sample ballots. Online registration was approved in 2013.

Minnesota, its elected officials and election administrators can be proud of a strong record of voting access and participation. We’ve long known we excel in this area. The Pew report confirms that.