The Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) has recently highlighted that the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) wants to eliminate statutory party balance requirements for election judges. As the self-described purveyor of the “only comprehensive statewide advocacy agenda for all Minnesota cities,” the LMC has as its goal to, in the words of the MVA, “strengthen the grasp of local government around the necks of its citizens.”
In the League of Minnesota Cities: 2021 City Policies, the LMC opposes legislation that “creates an automatic cause of action for damages any time a local regulatory action impacts the use or reduces the value of private property.” It wants to lower “the threshold for requiring voter approval for issuance of improvement bonds,” which would essentially make it easier to bypass voters to take on debt.
In promoting “sufficient authority and flexibility” for local government, the LMC expresses prioritizes government power over individual freedom.
The MVA is concerned that perhaps the most subversive part of the LMC agenda involves Minnesota elections, including voting rights for felons, universal mail-in voting, and restricting access to public voting data.
The LMC demands the restoration of the voting rights of convicted felons prior to completing their full sentences in direct conflict with the requirements of Article VII, Section 1, of the Minnesota constitution. The League wants all convicted felons’ voting rights restored as soon as they walk out of prison, including those convicted of violent crimes such as murder, rape, and child molestation.
The League says allowing convicted felons to vote upon release from prison is needed because it would eliminate the “administrative burden” of challenging voters at the polls to determine eligibility and will eliminate the need for law enforcement to investigate voter fraud.
Universal Mail-in Voting
Current law allows non-metropolitan townships and cities with less than 400 registered voters to hold elections exclusively by mail since many small communities are not equipped with facilities, staff, and election judges to conduct walk-in voting. The LMC supports allowing all cities, including large metro area cities to have mail-in balloting exclusively.
The LMC dreams of removing physical polling places, the most secure voting method that exists in Minnesota. Election judges and party balance requirements in place in every Minnesota precinct are the cornerstones of voting integrity. Exclusive mail-in balloting statewide would remove all safeguards that ensure votes are legal and permanently destroy any remaining integrity that still exists in Minnesota’s election process.
Restricted Public Access to Government Data including Voter Data
The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) statute is the cornerstone of the public’s right to hold officials accountable, providing citizens access to all government data that has not been classified by statute or federal law as non-public.
The LMC, however, is concerned about “balancing the right of the public to know what the government is doing” within “a context of effective government operation.” Specifically, the LMC supports empowering cities “to challenge whether a data request is reasonable and made in good faith”. This would fundamentally weaken the public’s right to data and making it subject to bureaucratic whim. It also proposes “amending the MGDPA to limit what is considered “public applicant data” and “allowing political subdivisions to charge for the staff time that is required to comply.”
As the MVA points out, the League of Minnesota Cities is one of the most influential lobbying organizations in Minnesota. It is funded with millions of taxpayer dollars coming from all but 17 of Minnesota’s 853 cities. “The LMC is a master in the art of framing a policy agenda in order to conceal its intended purposes and negative impacts.”
As a matter of reference, the President of the LMC is Brad Wiersum, Mayor of the City of Minnetonka. The Past President is Mike Mornson, City Manager of the City of Hopkins.