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Republicans: online voter registration should stop until it is vetted

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 15, 2013 - 2:01 PM

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday proposed suspending the new online voter registration system until the Legislature approves the system's creation.

The proposal, which came in a letter to the DFL chair of the Senate election committee, is the latest challenge to the website Secretary of State Mark Ritchie recently launched. Republican leaders, the Minnesota Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles and Sen. Katie Sieben, the DFL election chair, have all questioned its creation without legislative approval.

"Will you join us in a bipartisan effort by signing a letter requesting Secretary of State Ritchie suspend the online voter registration until there is enabling legislation?" Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Senator Republican Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, wrote Sieben on Tuesday.

On Monday, Sieben said she agreed that the new system should have been vetted through the Legislature, a breach in the normally calm relations between the DFL Secretary of State and the DFL chair of the Senate elections subcommittee.

"I agree with Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles' assessment that this system should be implemented with enabling legislation," Sieben said in a letter on Monday.

Republicans have asked Sieben to call an immediate hearing on the online voter registration system. Sieben said she plans to call a hearing on the issue but noted that there is little lawmakers can do about it until the Legislature is back in session next year.

Despite that, Newman and Hann said Tuesday "it is important to inform Secretary of State Ritchie that he does not have the Legislature's approval to create or promote an election system without enacting legislation."

Ritchie and his office have said that their reading of existing statutes allowed him to create the online system, which follow the same requirements for registration on paper.

Here's the letter from the Republican lawmakers on Tuesday:

20131015112548455 by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

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