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DFL legislative leader believes new voter registration system should go through Legislature

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: October 14, 2013 - 6:37 PM

The DFL Senate leader in charge of election issues said on Monday that the new online voter registration set up by the Secretary of State should be under legislative purview.

"I agree with Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles' assessment that this system should be implemented with enabling legislation," DFL Sen. Katie Sieben, chair of the Senate's elections committee, said in a statement on Monday.

A few weeks ago, DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie set up the online registration system without specific instructions from the Legislature to create it. While he and his office have said he had the authority to set up the website to allow Minnesotans to register to vote and update their registration, Republican lawmakers questioned his authority to do so.

Last week, Nobles underscored those questions in a letter to lawmakers, bolstering concerns about the registration system.

Sieben's belief in the need for legislation on the issue adds further doubt to whether Ritchie appropriately used his authority to create the system.

On Monday, Republican lawmakers asked Sieben to hold an interim hearing on the system to address Ritchie's authority as well as security concerns about it.

Republican Senate leader David Hann, of Eden Prairie, and Sen. Scott Newman, of Hutchinson, said that Ritchie "circumvented the legislative process" to create the online voter registration system.

Sieben, DFL-Newport, said in reply Monday evening: "I intend to call a hearing to review this issue and any possible legislation that may arise during the upcoming legislative session. I agree with Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles' assessment that this system should be implemented with enabling legislation. However, we are unable to take any official action on legislation prior to the 2014 session."

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