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MN voters could do the electric sign at polls

Electronic polling books have been underused at polls in 59 Minnesota counties, officials say.

While the technology has improved administration, efficiency and accuracy of voting, the current process to obtain a ballot still means putting pen to paper for a voter to verify their identity.

That does not say efficiency to Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL-Maple Grove).

House Elections Finance and Policy Committee 2/1/23

She sponsors HF204 that, as amended, would allow a voters to sign electronically on the polling pad. It was approved Wednesday by the House Elections Finance and Policy Committee and sent to the House Floor.

“The technology is reliable, it produces good results, and the technology is familiar to what is commonly used today at places like your bank, Target or the grocery store,” Bahner said. She emphasized the bill is not a requirement for counties, cities or townships to purchase and use the poll books.

When today’s technology is used properly it makes sense, said Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska).

In a letter, Hennepin County Board Chair Irene Fernando said she sees nothing but benefits. 

She wrote: “Allowing for electronic signatures minimizes election judge mistakes by walking the election judge through the check in and registration process and ensuring that signatures are captured properly. Electronic signatures also provide a backup in case the signed paper certificates and applications become lost or destroyed. There are also accessibility advantages for people with visual impairments or who have difficulty grasping a pen. The signature block area on an electronic pollbook is significantly larger than on a printed pollbook, and a voter can use their finger to sign if they are not able to hold a pen.”

The League of Minnesota Cities and Minnesota Association of County Officers expressed support. Bahner said the secretary of state’s office is also on board.

A fiscal note shows zero cost to the state.

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