WHEREAS, the City of Rochester supports efforts to ensure voting in 2020 is a safe, accessible experience for all voters, as well as the poll workers and public employees who make the voting process possible. This includes prioritizing anything that helps move as many voters to mail as possible, as that helps make the in-person voting process safer for everyone by reducing the number of Election Day voters, making it easier to keep both voters and poll workers safer. The City views this strictly as an issue of health, safety and access, and implores our state elected officials to do the same.
WHEREAS, Rochester supports making voting by mail fully accessible for any eligible Minnesotan. Other states like Utah and Colorado have successfully conducted their elections almost exclusively by mail for multiple years. This option provides voters and election workers alike the maximum assurances of personal health and safety. Statutory provisions to ensure a mail ballot is accessible to every Rochester voter who wishes to vote that way and that their vote can be successfully counted are critically important in this time. At a minimum, jurisdictions must be afforded more time to process ballots before Election Day to ensure every legally cast ballot gets counted.
WHEREAS, because there will be a high level of interest by voters in taking advantage of the existing ability under state law for any voter to vote by mail, there will be surges in requests for mail ballots. In some instances, that may mean even a request two or three weeks in advance (or more) may not always be fulfilled in time for voters to receive their ballots to vote. One way to help ensure every voter who wants to vote by mail can do so is by mailing a ballot to every registered voter at the opening of the absentee ballot period.
WHEREAS, the City recognizes not everyone wants to or is able to vote by mail. There must be options for those voters to cast a ballot in person, and that process must be made as safe as possible. Rochester applauds the legislature for the work that has been done to consider areas of consensus for shifts to election law in the time of COVID-19. The City strongly supports the essential provisions being pursued in bipartisan elections legislation, such as what is represented in HF 3429 and its Senate companion, SF3494, including:
- Allowing jurisdictions more time to process absentee ballots starting 14 days before Election Day.
- Flexibility to make polling place changes up until July 1 to ensure those locations currently in vulnerable facilities can be relocated in a manner that makes sense for voters and facilities alike.
- Allowing employees of health care facilities and hospitals to administer absentee voting to patients or residents of those facilities.
- Addressing challenges with requirements for in-person candidate filing, which will begin on May 19, 2020, by offering options to eliminate the need to do that in person, protecting candidates and public employees alike.
- Freeing access to Help American Vote Act (HAVA) funding allocated by Congress in December 2019 and as part of the March 2020 CARES Act for critical election security and safety funding, including specifically supporting efforts to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 election cycle.
BE IT RESOLVED: the Common Council of the City of Rochester supports adding provisions to make voting safe and accessible to the City’s legislative agenda and directs legislative staff to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of Rochester voters, poll workers, and city teammates in pursuing legislative action in this crucial realm.
PASSED AND ADOPTED BY THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF
ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA, THIS __________ DAY OF _______________, 2020.
PRESIDENT OF SAID COMMON COUNCIL
APPROVED THIS _____ DAY OF ______________________, 2020.
MAYOR OF SAID CITY
(Seal of the City of