We’re kind of busy in August. How does June look?
That’s essentially what voters have been saying with their low turnout in recent state primary elections, according to Rep. Kelly Fenton (R-Woodbury) and Secretary of State Steve Simon.
Fenton sponsors HF1393 that would move the state primary from the second Tuesday in August to the first Tuesday after the third Monday in June. It would also move up about a dozen election deadlines to accommodate the change.
In June, Fenton said, people haven’t left town yet and school buildings are still open, allowing easy use as polling places. But in August, she said, school buildings are often undergoing maintenance work and “a lot of people are just gone.”
On Wednesday, the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee laid the bill over, as amended, for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill. The companion, sponsored by Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Marys Point), awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.
Simon, who as a House member sponsored legislation in 2010 that moved the state primary from September to August, said a June date would find more Minnesotans available to vote and leave more time for voters to consider their general election options.
Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said he opposes the bill because many people start vacations in June. He unsuccessfully tried to table the bill.
The panel considered a raft of other election-related bills, including HF1509, sponsored by Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood). It would clarify that counties may send “I Voted” stickers with ballots to absentee voters or give stickers to people voting early. The bill, which has no Senate companion, was held over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.
Sponsored by Rep. Tim O'Driscoll (R-Sartell), the committee chair, HF1697 would provide $14 million in matching funds to counties toward purchase of election equipment to replace aging machines. It was approved and sent to the House State Government Finance Committee. It has no Senate companion.
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Day three of the 2017 special session saw lawmakers pass final omnibus bills to be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, with weary House members wrapping up their work at 2:42 a.m. Friday following a week of long days — and nights — at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers on conference committees must sort through competing bills before finalizing a product to send to the governor.
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