*URGENT POLICY CHANGE REQUEST ~ TO ACCOMMODATE THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY DECLARATION MADE FOR MINNESOTA HEALTH SAFETY ~ AS IT APPLIES TO CURRENT MINOR POLITICAL PARTY PETITIONING PRACTICES AND REQUIREMENTS*
TO: Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan; Secretary of State Steve Simon; the State Senate’s Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee; and the State House’s Subcommittee on Elections
On March 11 the World Health Organization designated coronavirus, or COVID-19, a global pandemic. On March 13 President Trump declared a U.S. national emergency. Additionally on March 13 Governor Walz announced a peacetime emergency here in Minnesota. As of today, March 14 the Minnesota Department of Health has so far confirmed 21 cases of positive test results for people having coronavirus.
Gov. Walz has put forth a series of “community mitigation strategies” which include asking Minnesotans to avoid large gatherings, to do their work from home if possible, and to avoid being within six feet of contact of others at smaller gatherings to limit interactions as much as possible.
In exactly 60 days the state’s three minor political parties (the Libertarian, Independence-Alliance, and Green Parties of Minnesota) are given their limited two-week ballot access nominating petition signature gathering window. Each party must collect several thousand signatures during the last two weeks of May (only) to place candidates onto the fall general election ballot, something these three parties have done consistently every election cycle for decades.
The environment suddenly exists that makes this process an inherent health risk to not only the individuals who do the petitioning but also to the citizens being approached who get asked to sign a nominating petition. Petitioning requires constant and voluminous face-to-face interaction.
For scope, just we of the LPMN intend to dispatch dozens of volunteers to go door-to-door to gather 2000 signatures for President, 2000 signatures for US Senate, 500 signatures for each of the 6 Minnesota legislative races we have planned, plus a 50% cushion. To find these 10,000 willing signatures often requires knocking on over 5 times as many doors. We are already seeing in other states where petitioning is currently underway, people are avoiding petitioners (rightly so) which is doubling or tripling the number of door knocking interactions needed.
With the health and safety of all Minnesotans being paramount during this outbreak, as well as to maintain fair elections, we hereby make a formal request to Governor Walz, Secretary Simon, the State Senate Elections Committee, and the State House Elections Subcommittee to act immediately to suspend the physical petitioning requirement and/or the current filing deadline which is currently set as June 2, 2020.
An efficient solution already exists, if acted on, in proposed bills SF752 (companion HF708). Introduced in 2019 and amended in 2020 (via H0708A2) these bills remain stuck in the listed committees. If passed it would allow our political parties who have achieved over 1% in the last state wide vote to put candidates onto ballots using internal party process, such as by convention endorsement, or by filing fee, or with a deadline extended to mid-August (around the time of the state primary, 77 days prior to the general).
Enacting these proposals will change behaviors for (the only) three minor parties that exist in Minnesota. This will result in preventing hundreds of thousands of face-to-face interactions soon.
Please act now to preserve public health alongside fair elections. Let’s not hurt one in the name of the other. We look forward to working with the Governor, the Secretary of State, and other state officials to prioritize the rights and the well being of all Minnesotans.
Signed March 14, 2020;
Chris Holbrook, Libertarian Party of Minnesota Chair
Phil Fuehrer, Independence-Alliance Party of Minnesota Chair
Trahern Crews, Green Party of Minnesota Chair
(full documents can be read at https://www.lpmn.org/ballot-inclusiveness/)
Senate’s State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee
*Sen Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30) – *Chair
*Sen Mark Koran (R-32) – *Vice Chair
*Sen Jim Carlson (D-51) – *Ranking Minority Member
Sen Jeff Howe (R-13) – Member
Sen Scott Newman (R-18) – Member
Sen John Jasinski (R-21) – Member
Sen Carolyn Laine (D-41) – Member
Sen Susan Kent (D-53) – Member
Sen Anne Rest (D-45) – Member
Sen Torrey Westrom (R-12) – Member
House Subcommittee on Elections
*Rep Raymond Dehn (D-59B) – *Chair
*Rep Kristin Bahner (D-34B) – *Vice Chair
*Rep Jim Nash (R-47A) – *Republican Lead
Rep Connie Bernardy (D-41A) – Member
Rep Laurie Halverson (D-51B) – Member
Rep Alice Mann (D-56B) – Member
Rep Anne Neu (R-32B) – Member
Rep Tim O’Driscoll (R-13B) – Member