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From Michelle Witte, Executive Director, League of Women Voters Minnesota



At least the roads weren't snowy yet, as I navigated the back roads to a Township meeting in southern Minnesota. I got a glimpse of the cows and cornfields on my way out, and was entertained by lovely holiday light decorations in small towns on my way back home. And as I drove home, I knew this was just the first of many winter meetings I would need to attend.

I attended last night's meeting at the request of one of our Greater MN local Leagues, who brought to our attention a contentious elections' issue in their community. What's so amazing about the League of Women Voters is that we are truly grassroots - we have members across the entire state who are "on the ground," educated and aware, and who know we need to thwart misinformation about our elections whenever we can. Because mis- and disinformation spread like weeds - even in a Minnesota winter. The issue itself seemed fairly benign. Some people in the Township wanted to move away from mail-in balloting as their voting method, and back to in-person voting.

But the issue at hand was the reason why some voters wanted to change their voting method. Flyers were circulating filled with misinformation about mail-in voting.

And worst of all - which is the issue we're seeing grow across Greater MN - is the fear-mongering tied to the launch of Automatic Voter Registration alongside Driver's Licenses for All.

Their flyer included - "...Everyone on the (voters) list... can be sent a ballot... including anyone applying for a driver's license regardless of U.S. Citizenship since the enactment of Driver's License for All on October 1, 2023." That's just flat WRONG. Only individuals who have proven their citizenship at the DMV will be automatically registered to vote, which is clearly stated in the new legislation. Furthermore, we have always had noncitizens with driver's licenses in MN. This includes documented immigrants with green cards or visas. The safeguards and processes in place ensure that people who are not citizens will not be automatically registered to vote, even if they get a driver's license.

We've been sharing this information across the state all summer and fall, speaking at Rotary and other community meetings. We've submitted testimony before township and county boards, and corrected misinformation along the way, as we did last night. And we're making a difference. Thanks to the advocacy from our local League, and working with us to get the correct information in front of the Township Board, the board voted to keep mail-in balloting for now. Sadly, this vote incited a lot of shouting from the 50 or so people there, including disrespect for the Township Clerk, and yelling at our League member who tried to speak, to "sit down, we don't want to hear from you." But they will hear from us again. And again. And again. We won't stop fighting.

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