The House has passed an elections bill that would adopt so-called no-excuse absentee voting in the state.
The bill passed through the chamber after less than an hour of debate on a 74-60 vote. Republican Reps. Tim Sanders and Tim O’Driscoll crossed over to support the proposal, while DFL Rep. Ron Erhardt voted against the bill. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has stressed bipartisan support as a precondition for signing any elections package sent to his desk this year.
The bill would allow no-excuse absentee voting in the state, though it does not include a more controversial proposal to allow voting to start about two weeks before Election Day, which still survives as part of the Senate elections omnibus bill. The House bill’s sponsor, DFL Rep. Steve Simon, also removed a contentious national popular vote proposal from the bill before the vote.
The proposal is supported by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, also a Democrat. “This bill moves Minnesota closer to joining the majority of other states which already offer their voters the increasingly exercised option of voting absentee without needing to provide an excuse,” Richie said in a statement.
Lawmakers took up national popular vote as a standalone bill, also authored by Simon, ultimately rejecting the proposal on a 71-62 vote. That bill garnered much more debate, as well as bipartisan support and opposition.
The Senate elections bill, which would also move the state primary from August to June, is still in committee.