Analysis

New Minnesota Secretary of State Recommends Proven Motor Voter Reforms

Now that all chief election official races are decided, the new administrators are beginning to announce their policy goals for the coming year. Steve Simon (D), Minnesota’s incoming secretary of state, announced some of his objectives, which include automating voter registration at the Division of Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS). Currently, applicants can register by checking a box on the paper forms at the DVS. This information is then entered manually into the electronic database.

Simon would like to model Minnesota’s new system after the “eSignature” system that Delaware implemented in 2009, which eliminates the use of paper and builds a real-time, electronic link between the elections and motor vehicle agencies. Applicants who are obtaining, renewing, or updating a license or ID must affirm or decline to register to vote before they can complete their transaction. The system encourages complete data collection by automatically filling fields that are shared between the agencies, such as name, date of birth, and address, and then requiring the applicant—not the motor vehicle clerk—to confirm or update the information. This reduces the staff time and paper necessary to process transactions, resulting in a 67 percent decrease in employees’ transaction time and saving Delaware approximately $50,000 per year.

Minnesota, which is exempt from the National Voter Registration Act because it has offered Election Day voter registration since the law was enacted, is not required to conduct voter registration at the Division of Driver and Vehicle Services. The state chooses to do so voluntarily.

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