Support an independent redistricting commission to safeguard the integrity of Minnesota’s redistricting process and drawing of voting maps
Redistricting is the way we adjust the boundaries that determine who represents us in Congress and the state legislature. In a democracy, we are supposed to choose our elected representatives. However all too often, through sophisticated partisan gerrymandering tactics, our representatives are really choosing their voters. Election Day is when we get to have our say, and we need to reform the rules so every vote matters.
Fair redistricting is fundamental to a functional democracy. Even when the population is divided equally, drawing the lines one way:
- can reward one party while punishing another;
- can protect incumbents and
- can guarantee they will face a potent challenger (from their own party or the opposite party).
Consequently, redistricting has a direct bearing on which issues a legislative body chooses to tackle, and which it ignores.
Ensure that Minnesota is positioned for an accurate and complete count and work with the Census Bureau to reach hard-to-count Minnesotans
A complete, accurate census count will ensure all Minnesota communities have maximum visibility and voice in the coming decade.
Census data guides the allocation of approximately $589 billion to local communities every year. Locally, it is used by private and public agencies, organizations, businesses, and institutions to help determine a wide variety of decisions directly impacting our communities in MN.
Some of those are regarding where to invest and open/create new schools, roads, health care facilities/hospital emergency services, child-care and senior centers, grocery/convenience/retail stores where to recruit employees. Others have to do with opening/closing bus routes, where to locate new factories and open new banks. This data is also used to shape congressional and state legislative electoral districts.
Undercounting groups of Minnesotans result in dire shortfalls that disproportionately impact regions of the state, isolating Minnesotans from needed infrastructure and access to local resources.
Who are considered “hard-to-count” Minnesotans? It’s usually those living in buildings that aren’t full, folks who recently moved, multi-family homes, or renters.
Other Minnesotans less likely to be counted are households that are not husband/wife families, homes that have no telephone service, folks who don’t have a high school degree, Minnesotans living below poverty and/or living on public assistance income, those who are unemployed or those who lack English speaking skills.
Make the legislature subject to the Minnesota Data Practices Act and the Open Meeting Law increasing both transparency and accountability in government and making closed-door meetings at the Legislature illegal
The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA), Minn. Stat. § 13, is a state law that controls how government data are collected, created, maintained, used and released. The MGDPA sets out certain requirements relating to the right of the public to access government data and the rights of individuals who are the subjects of government data.
The MGDPA applies to all data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by any government entity. As defined in this law, it includes state agencies, statewide systems, and political subdivisions, which includes counties, cities, school districts, special districts, boards, commissions, and district; as well as authorities created by law, local ordinance or charter provision.
However, the law does not include our Legislative Branch. This means that our state Legislative branch operates in darkness unless they deem it appropriate to share what they wish with Minnesota voters and tax payers.
Additionally, Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law is intended to protect Minnesotans’ right to know what is happening in our government. Unfortunately, this law similarly does not include the legislative branch in its definition of public body found at Minnesota Statutes 13D.01.
There is a law (Minnesota Statute 3.055) that requires all meetings of the legislature to be open to the public, but this anemic open meeting law does not outline any public notice requirements for the legislature. It may post a hearing on a given day, provide a copy of proposed policies, budgets or formally submitted testimony but, there is no legal obligation to do so and it is left strictly to the discretion of the legislative body and its respective chambers.
Decisions are made behind closed doors among five core individuals; the House Speaker, the Senate leader, the ranking minority leaders of each chamber and the Governor. Nothing to require conference committee chairs to post respective compromise or “deals” so that the public is informed, only already agreed upon provisions are discussed after the fact and without public input.
Citizens should not underestimate our power as voters and taxpayers. We can increase transparency in the way our legislators conduct our business by applying the Open Meeting Law to the legislative branch.
Protect Minnesota’s access to the ballot through same day voter registration
Minnesota allows any qualified resident of the state to go to register to vote and cast a ballot all in that day.
There has been recent action in the Minnesota legislature to dismantle same day voter registration by institutionalizing the provisional ballot. Provisional ballots have been traditionally used by states who have very restrictive voting laws as a way of increasing access to the ballot for groups that may experience certain socio-economic barriers or obstacles.
Whether a provisional ballot is counted is contingent upon the verification of that voter’s eligibility, which may involve local election officials reviewing government records or asking the voter for more information, such as a photo identification not presented at the polling place or proof of residence.
The experience in some states using provisional ballots is that many of these ballots never do count, raising questions about how good a fail-safe they really are.