Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SD-26 : Minority Rules ! And What Needs to Change

The results of the Special Election for Minnesota Senate District 26 indicate the People have NOT spoken.

Oh sure, there were ballots counted and a winner was announced, but the turnout was so pitiful that the WILL of the people is not really known.
Historically, Minnesotans take pride in leading the nation in turnout. In 2006, MN-GOP Dick Day was re-elected in SD-26 easily with a participation rate of 71.1%. In the presidential year 2008, the participation rate was 81.2% with 37,732 district voters participating.
The turnout for this Special Election was 27.2% with only 11,486 voters participating.
So, although MN-GOP Mike Parry (MN-GOP) had a comfortable 751 vote margin, 30,682 voters did not participate !
That’s more people that DID NOT participate in this election then all the votes cast in Dick Day's Regular Election contest in 2006.

Although there may be many reasons why voters didn't participate, the timing may have the most impact. Many remember seeing GOP Congressmen with raised purple fingers at President Bush’s State of the Union address to signify solidarity with the Iraqi voters. After the January 26th Special Election, the only purple fingers on Minnesotans would be a sign of frostbite.

It’s just plain silly to have a voting window that is only open for fourteen hours in frigid cold January … especially in a rural district that is spread through three Minnesota counties.

The State Legislature needs to address this.
Senators Katie Sieben, Kathy Sheran and Ann Rest have introduced Senate Bill 853 which authorizes no-excuse absentee voting. Under current legislation, Minnesota residents who wish to vote absentee are required to provide a reason as to why they are unable to go to the polling place on Election Day. The acceptable reasons are clearly defined in current law, but “it might be a blizzard” is not one of them … nor is “I don’t go to town on Tuesdays” … etc.
That’s a start … but even better would be to enact Senate Bill 970 introduced by Senators Sieben, Rick Olseen, John Marty, Sandra Pappas and Jim Carlson which authorizes early voting and would allow Minnesota residents to vote in person before Election Day at the office of the county auditor or other approved polling locations.
That’s the best solution.
The League of Women Voters primarily supports the bill because it will make it easier for Minnesota citizens to vote. "We want to make access to the polls as simple as it can possibly be," Gwen Myers from the League of Women Voters said endorsing this legislation and pointing to people with jobs that call them out of town unexpectedly, people with unpredictable medical conditions and pregnant women who may find it difficult to wait in long lines at their polling place.

Considering that well over $50,000 was spent on this Special Election, you have to wonder....WHO get their money's worth?
It’s time to put the PEOPLE’s Interests before Special Interests ... Let's put an end to Minority Rules.


Anonymous said...

Is this a joke? While there are rural townships and small communities in SD 26 (like Medford, Morristown, Blooming Prairie, etc.) the majority of the population lives in bigger cities like Waseca, Owatonna and Faribault.

There's no excuse for someone not being willing to show up at the local school or community center and cast their vote between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm. Certainly there are folks who are not in the district or physically unable to leave their homes. That's why absentee balloting was, in fact, created.

The only reason some want to have early voting is to give ACORN and other political operatives more time to get people to the polls. As if we don't have enough problems with voting already.

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Minnesota Central said...

First, Thanks for reading my commentary and offering your opinion.

However, the commentary was not meant as a joke.

The failure of people to participate in a Representative Democracy continues to be a concern … and SD-26 is not unique. If you read my commentary link on the NY-23 election where the Democrat beat a Conservative, it was in a similar vein. It does not matter if a Republican, Democrat or Independent is declared the winner, when only 27.2% of the eligible voters participate, the creditability of the election process needs to be questioned

It’s silly that we have such a short time period for opening voting. You can renew a conceal and carry permit over a 120 day time period, but voting can only occur on one day … does that make sense? Other government functions have adapted to providing better community service. Waseca County had a free H1N1 clinic that started on a Saturday and then did sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Look at business … if you are old enough you remember when banks operated from 9AM-3PM and were only open late on Friday night …. Now Wells Fargo has full service banking until 3PM on Saturday … plus ATM machines spread throughout the community.

That said, Tuesday was a perfect example why the laws need to change. Monday was a blizzard and Tuesday morning, the schools were delayed. If you live in a rural area, you are familiar “blowing and drifting” … and on my township road, it is not uncommon for the plows to take an extra day (the first plow for Christmas Eve snowstorm that hit on a Thursday was the following Tuesday.) Should rural voters have more impediments to get to the voting booth than those in Owatonna ?
Would I have rather stopped down at the County Courthouse and cast my vote early … you betcha. That’s why it makes so much sense … in fact, having voted in the 2006 election via the absentee process, I found I was scrutinized harder than at my local precinct where they have known me for decades.

I appreciate your opinion, but how do you propose to increase voter participation ?