Auditor questions online voter registration in Minnesota

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Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's decision to institute online voter registration may not have been legal.

According to the blog Capitol Chatter  Legislative Auditor James Nobles said he agrees with a conclusion from a House researcher who said that implementing online voter registration through legislative enactment is the more sound legal approach to this type of policy change.

Ritchie announced last month that Minnesota voters would be able to register online. He said the move would save money and was secure and convenient. Ritchie said paper registration would still be allowed, but the online registration would be especially good for voters who live overseas, including military personnel.

The House researcher points to 2004 when the legislature updated the voter registration law, lawmakers could have included online voter registration, but did not.

Ritchie responded to the comments from Nobles.

Ritchie's response said, "We appreciate the thoughts and comments of the Legislative Auditor in regard to our online voter registration tool. We look forward to further discussions about the system and how it is helping to modernize Minnesota's voter registration process and how it was built with safety and security at top-of-mind."

Ritchie says since online registration began they have received 869 total applications, 489 registration updates, 10 new voter registrations, 218 applications that are currently being processed, and 52 submitted registrations that could not be processed because of incomplete or unverifiable data on applications.

The Star Tribune reported this week that Republicans want an independent review of Ritchie's decision.

Nobles said he plans to look into it at some point.

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