Photo by Kent Landerholm, 2012

The League of Women Voters of Dakota County is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences policy through education and advocacy. We meet monthly and also host candidate forums, issue forums, and other events of interest to the community. Please attend one of our meetings or contact us for more information!


Updated: Feb 8

Words matter. At our meeting on February 2 we reflected on the narrative of a “stolen election” through the stories of Kenya and Iraq, shared by Anna Ruth Merritt and Julie Ethan. Anna Ruth Merritt interned in Kenya in 2007-2008 and witnessed deep societal divisions, an election that was internationally recognized as stolen, and the ensuing fallout. Upon returning to the United States, Anna Ruth began to see disturbingly similar societal divisions. Julie Ethan shared research from her thesis advisor at the Kroc School of Peace Studies, Ami Carpenter, PhD, on neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq that withstood sectarian violence by adopting a non-defensive/inclusive stance after the 2003 invasion by U.S. forces.

Julie Ethan is the author of How Can Half the Country Be So Stupid? A Memoir and Guide to Friendship Between Political Opposites. Julie consults with organizations on bridging the red/blue divide. She provides one-on-one counsel to individuals engaged in relationships harmed by political conflict. Julie was formerly a small business owner and a co-founder of the Eagan, MN alliance of Braver Angels, an organization with a mission to depolarize America. After raising their five children, she and her spouse, Larry, sold their business and moved to San Diego, CA in 2019.

Anna Ruth Merritt cares deeply about fostering resilient and caring communities. She has worked in support of individuals, families, and communities at home and abroad and is currently in the process of launching a small business that will increase material and relational wellbeing in her hometown of Conway, Arkansas, where she lives, loves, and gardens with her dog and fluffle of rabbits.

Updated: Mar 3

Update: The bill has now passed in three different House committees. The companion bill in the Senate has yet to receive a hearing and it is very unlikely to pass the Minnesota Senate.

On January 27 a broad bill concerning elections, campaign finance, and redistricting was voted out of committee by the MN House State Government Finance and Elections Committee on a party-line vote. The bill is H.F. 9. A detailed summary of the bill is available here. Video of today's hearing is available here. Video of a hearing held yesterday, focused largely on the same bill, is available here. The companion bill in the Senate is S.F. 422.

The bill contains a broad package of reforms that would:

  1. Automatically register anyone applying for a driver's license to vote and make it easier for others to register;

  2. Restore voting rights for those with a felony conviction unless they remain incarcerated;

  3. Allow voters to have an absentee ballot, rather than an absentee ballot application, sent to them automatically prior to each election;

  4. Establish standards for absentee ballot drop boxes and require rulemaking to establish necessary procedures;

  5. Require that absentee voting instructions be provided in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali;

  6. Require that early voting be available for 30 days prior to each election including every weekday and two Saturdays;

  7. Allow the Secretary of State to use HAVA funds without the need for approval from the Legislature;

  8. Prohibit voter intimidation, deceptive practices, and other forms of interference with the right to vote;

  9. Establish a Democracy Dollar program similar to that used in Seattle, whereby every registered voter will be provided two $25 coupons that may be assigned to any state-level candidate and then redeemed for cash from the state government, until funds are exhausted;

  10. Establish a matching contribution program whereby contributions to candidates will be matched by the state on a 6-1 basis for contributors residing in the candidate's district, and on a 3-1 basis for those residing outside the candidate's district, and contributions to political parties will be matched on a 1-1 basis, until funds are exhausted;

  11. Eliminate the existing political contribution refund and public subsidy programs;

  12. Expand the scope of communications defined as independent expenditures;

  13. Require those making independent expenditures to include on their campaign material a list of their top three contributors; and

  14. Establish redistricting principles and require public hearings, review, and opportunity for comment during the redistricting process.

Media coverage of the bill is available from MPR News, Kare11, and MinnPost. An overview of the bill by chief author Representative Emma Greenman is available via the following video starting at 26:34:

Updated: Mar 3

Update: The bill has now passed in four different Senate committees. There is now a companion bill in the House, H.F. 293, but that bill has yet to receive a hearing and it is very unlikely to pass the Minnesota House.

The Minnesota Senate Committee on State Government Finance and Policy and Elections held a hearing on S.F. 173 on January 27. Video of the hearing is available here. The bill would require voters to present a photo ID in order to vote and in order to register to vote on election day. Those unable to present the required form of photo ID would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, but in order for a provisional ballot to be counted, the voter would need to go to their county auditor or municipal clerk's office within seven days and provide the required photo ID or sign an affidavit saying they attempted to and were unable to obtain that ID.

The bill would also eliminate the use of a driver's license with an old address plus a utility bill or other document serving as proof of residence, and would eliminate vouching, as a means of registering to vote on election day. Media coverage mentioning the bill in broad terms is available from the Associated Press, MinnPost here and here, and from WCCO. A press release from the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus regarding the bill is available here.

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