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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Representative Kelly Fenton's Proposal (HF463) Threatens Voting Integrity

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Representative Kelly Fenton, Republican serving district 53b in Woodbury, is the author of an election bill HF463. Included in the bill is a proposal to expand a form of early voting in Minnesota to 46 days! Effectively changing our system from an Election Day, to an Election Month and a half. Representative Fenton did not respond to questions asking why she wants to overhaul absentee voting and why she was avoiding the checks and balances of the legislative process by placing the bill in the House election omnibus bill.

Also on the bill besides Fenton as an author is Representative Tim O'Driscoll (R) and Roz Peterson (R), the rest of the 9 total authors are democrats.

In 2013, the Democrat controlled Legislature passed a law allowing voters to obtain an absentee ballot with no excuse, up to 46 days before the election. In 2016, the legislature changed the law to allow the voter to turn in the ballot in person up to 7 days before the election day to be counted. Both law changes hurt voting integrity as it brought more voting outside the verification of the polling place.  

Andy Cilek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Voters Alliance stated in a letter to law makers: Representative Fenton's proposal will enable potentially hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted, bypassing the local Ballot Boards. They will no longer be able to review absentee ballot applications that they now screen and reject. In short, the change from 7 to 46 days undermines the sole purpose of absentee ballot boards.

Cilek went on to say:
Following the 2008 election, Data Practices Act request produced data showing 17,000 of the 545,000 same day registrants had to be marked “challenged” in the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) database because they did not pass one of the 9 eligibility checks. (To view the 9 eligibility checks, visit and view the Mark Ritchie video, 5th one down)

Voter fraud happens in Minnesota's absentee ballot system and it makes no sense to make this problem worse by six fold (7 to 46 days). Especially to pass such a massive overhaul through this session’s omnibus bill without prior examination of its ramifications. Representative Fenton has not responded to questions regarding her decision to tag this on the election omnibus bill rather than put it through committee hearings and have it pass as a stand alone bill.

There's a whole list of addition reasons Fenton's bill is horrible that we credit the Minnesota Voters Alliance for providing. Please contact your legislators to remove "Alternative procedure" from the house election omnibus bill. Simply pick one or all of the many reasons:
  • This bill changes our system from an Election Day, to an Election Month and a half, giving voters an extra 46 days to find a convenient time to vote before their eligibility can be verified.
  • The bill’s name and wording intentionally mislead legislators. The name does little to describe the bill and, together with the wording, blur the distinction between absentee voting (already registered and verified voters) and with new unregistered voters (whose new registrations will not be verified until after the election and after their votes have been counted). 
  • In the “Alternative Procedure” bill, the early registrants are not verified for eligibility prior to voting because their Voter Registration Application (VRA) is SET ASIDE until after Election Day, just as if they were absentee voters, in accordance with MS 201.061. This means that the person is not verified to see if they meet the qualifications to vote, they simply do so on the “honor system”. 
  • Having fewer election observers to monitor the actual casting of ballots inevitably increases the potential for fraud;
  • A much larger proportion of votes being cast in an uncontrolled environment. The ballots are out there, and there’s nobody watching.
  • “Ballot harvesters” will have more options; they can pick busloads of people up, bring them down to the voting booth - it’s easier and quicker- and these operatives can be paid on the number of ballots that are cast.
According to Andy Cilek, Fenton has been responding to concerned citizens saying the new procedure will help solve some problem of too many people handing ballots in the absentee process.  There's no evidence of this being a problem.  Even if a small issue exists in that regard, it would be absolutely dwarfed in comparison to the problems that will arise if this bill passes.  

Legislators must implement laws that protect our election integrity – not make our elections more vulnerable to fraud.

More articles on Representative Fenton:
Four Reasons Rep. Kelly Fenton was a Terrible Choice for a Republican Assistant Majority Leader  
Representative Fenton's New Woodbury Lodging Tax Bill is a Slap in the Face to New Hotels and GOP
Four GOP Legislators are Silent After Attempt to Sneak Funding for Mass Transit in Omnibus Bill 
Common Sense Solution to Prevent Voter Fraud Makes it Through the Senate, Stopped by Representative Fenton in the House
At Her Own Crossroads: Will Representative Fenton Lead or Appease