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GOP senators call for committee hearing on online voter registration

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Minnesota's new online voter registration system being challenged by Republican state senators has been accessed by more than a thousand Minnesotans since launching in late September.

The Star Tribune said that the majority have used the website, MNvotes.org, to change their registered names or addresses. About 200 had registered to vote while another 200 submitted registration applications online.

Minnesota has become the 15th state in the country to offer online voter registration, but some say DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie didn't have the authority to implement the new system without the Legislature's approval.

Senate Minority leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, and state Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, made a formal request Monday for an expedited Subcommittee on Elections hearing on the issue, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

“It is our understanding that you do intend to hold a committee hearing on this matter after the 2014 session starts,” Hann and Newman wrote, according to MPR. “However, given the fact that it is currently being used, such delay in action is simply not acceptable.”

Last week, state Legislative Auditor James Noble highlighted a nonpartisan analysis, saying that implementing online voter registration through legislative enactment is a more sound legal approach.

"I think [the Legislature] is really the place where these issue need to be discussed and decided," Nobles told KSTP.

Ritchie says his office was given authority to create the online registration system from a law that also requires state acceptance of electronic signatures, the Star Tribune reported.

In a statement to KSTP, the Secretary of State's Office says it "has had the authority to implement online voter registration at least since 2000."

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