MN Voter Registration

Landlords Won’t be Forced to do Voter Registration Drives

The Minnesota Voters Alliance has once again prevailed in court, undoing new, unconstitutional ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul that required landlords to provide voter registration for their tenants.

The overturned ordinances are part of a disturbing trend of political organizations getting government to do their work for them. Voter registration drives are typically activities carried on by political parties and agenda-driven non-profit organizations. They are done all across the political spectrum, but more emphasis is typically placed on such drives by the left. In the urban centers of Minneapolis and St. Paul, renters are more likely to be Democrat voters, so it was the hope of the DFL and left-leaning organizations that they could save money and labor-hours by government mandates forcing property owners to do their work for them.

A group of Landlords and the Minnesota Voters Alliance sued the cities in US District Court over violations of the First Amendment. Obama-appointee Judge Wilhelmina Wright agreed that the ordinances unconstitutionally compel speech and struck them down.

Meanwhile, at the state level, another government scheme to do other political party work is coming under intense scrutiny after Minnesotan voters were finally directly exposed to the statutes that overturned decades of caucusing with a presidential primary.

Identifying the political leaning of potential voters is one of the primary activities of political parties and campaign committees. Because the Minnesota Republican Party is typically underfunded compared to their Democrat competitors, many on the right thought money and effort could be saved by getting the state to gather data on party preference instead. Thus, the new presidential primary eliminated multi-party ballots, splitting each party onto it’s own ballot and requires election officials to record which ballot each voter chooses to vote. This, in essence identifies a person’s preferred political party. That information is now entered into the statewide voter registration system and shared with the major political parties. This understandably raises privacy concerns among the citizens of a state not accustomed to party registration (as many states require).

Legislation is currently being debated at the Capitol which might either (futilely) attempt to better restrict access to primary ballot choice data or prohibit the recording of that information altogether.

From the left and the right attempts to get the government to do political work have long been attempted and have always been bad ideas. Now, we are seeing the consequences of such schemes.

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