EDITORIAL: Elections Absentee voting expands freedom

·2 min read

Sep. 23—If you're voting with an early absentee ballot today or within the next 46 days, consider yourself fortunate. As late as last year, some Minnesota elected officials wanted to scale back or eliminate so called no-excuse early absentee voting.

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, proposed last year that Minnesota's no-excuse absentee voting be eliminated and the law be turned back to the days when voters could not vote absentee unless they could show they were sick or disabled or would not be at their home polling place on Election Day.

That law was justifiably changed by a large bipartisan majority and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2013. Minnesota joined dozens of other states in allowing so called no-excuse absentee voting, leaving anyone to vote early by absentee for any reason. It allowed for online voter registration also, bringing Minnesota in line with dozens of other states to make voting easier.

The new law also gave always weather-conscious Minnesotans a way to avoid the risk of having to go out in a blizzard on Election Day. No more worries. Voting was easier. Democracy was served.

But Kiffmeyer and other GOP senators last year proposed rolling back absentee voting and limiting the places voters could drop off absentee votes. They argued their constituents were worried about voting integrity, a false narrative fanned by ex-President Donald Trump and his supporters that had no basis in reality or any legal standing.

Fortunately, the Democrat-controlled House and Gov. Tim Walz were the firewall that stopped the Senate GOP from burning down free and fair elections at the hands of Kiffmeyer and her lack of evidence.

In fact, as Secretary of State Steve Simon has said, Minnesota's record turnout and antiseptically clean election in 2020 proves Minnesotans do have confidence in the voting system. And the absentee law also prevented Minnesotans from standing in line in 2020 during the pandemic exposing themselves to a deadly virus.

So absentee voting saves democracy and its saves lives. Who would be against that?

We urge voters to find out if the candidates favor preserving or expanding absentee voting. Our democracy depends on it.