Mail-in Voting Could Determine the Outcome of MN01 Special Election

The dates for the Special Election for Minnesota’s First District have been set — candidate filings by March 15, a primary (if necessary) on May 24 with the Special Election to coincide with the Primary for the November General Election on August 9 — with the possibilities of four parties participating — DFL, Grassroots Legalize Cannabis, Legal Marijuana Now and the MNGOP.

Considering the history of Primaries and Special Elections having low turnout, don’t be surprised if the outcome is determined by the mail-in ballots in the May 24th Republican Party primary. NOTE : Absentee ballots and early voting is not the subject of this commentary … this is about voting in mail-in precincts.

As chronicled in a previous MN Political Roundtable commentary, the First District has a number of mail-in precincts in which every registered voters automatically receives a ballot with pre-paid postage. Mail-in precincts have been used in Minnesota since 1987 and typically are for cities with fewer than 400 registered voters, or townships of any size, who choose to vote exclusively by mail. Further, the number of mail-in precincts has been growing — across the State as it increased to 1,345 in 2020 from 938 in 2018 … with plenty of these in the small communities of Minnesota’s First District.

In the 2020 General Election, a sampling of voter participation in mail-in precincts indicated a participation rate of over 91% … that is significant when compared to precincts where voters either have to request an absentee ballot or vote in-person.

Thus IF there is a contested Primary, where the voter participation is low … under 50,000 … the candidate who can get the mail-in vote has a significant advantage … and as a bonus, if they voted for you in the Primary, they learn the process and are likely to vote for you in the General Election.

Sorta funny that when Republican lawmakers across the country have proposed a record number of bills that limit voting rights, Minnesota’s First District voter-friendly mail-in precincts may actually determine the winner.

And here is a FunFact, current House District 23B State Representative Jeremy Munson casts his vote through the mail-in precinct system ( Lincoln township) … yet, Mr. Munson has sponsored a number of bills to change the existing voting system but mail-in precincts process does not seem to be that much of a concern.

The bills that Mr. Munson has sponsored include :

HF211 Voters required to provide picture ID before receiving a ballot (hmmm … I guess every mail-in precinct voter would have to go to the County Board Of Elections to show their ID in order to be eligible to vote — how likely is it for someone to travel 25 miles to the county seat and meet during their hours?)

HF213 Signature certification and a requirement that during a presidential nomination primary, acknowledging that “I am in general agreement with the principles of the party for whose candidate I intend to vote.” (Have you read the Republican platform ?)

HF365 Establishing that it is a felony for someone else (other than household members) to mail a ballot and if the family member is authorized and “delays” delivery, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

HF2857 Absentee ballot application may not be preprinted with voter registration information by private organizations.