Top Republican leaders want the state’s legislative auditor to examine a move from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to allow online voter registration in Minnesota.
In a letter sent to Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles‘ office on Monday, GOP minority leaders Kurt Daudt and David Hann, along with Republican election committee leads Rep. Tim Sanders and Sen. Scott Newman, said Ritchie “unilaterally” started the program without vetting the proposal in committee hearings. The program allows new voters to register online or returning voters to update their information.
Ritchie’s office announced the program last month and officially launched online registration on Sept. 26. In the first week of the program, more than 50 new voters registered and more than 300 people updated their registration online.
“We are extremely concerned that Secretary Ritchie has decided to use dubious authority to make this change,” reads the letter. “Minnesota has a rich history of requiring broad bipartisan support for any changes to election policy, and that history should be respected.”
In the letter, Republicans said they are also concerned about possible data breaches in the new system, particularly after private information concerning more than 1,500 insurance brokers was inadvertently released ahead of the launch of the new state-run health insurance exchange, MNsure. Republicans want Nobles to examine whether there are any safeguards in place to prevent something similar from happening with the online voter registration tool.
“The recent data breaches at MNsure show that it is more important than ever to make sure our private information is protected,” the letter read.
Ritchie’s office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Read the full letter here.