Secretary of State Ritchie Visits Rochester, Talks Changes

Posted at: 02/07/2013 7:09 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie made a stop in Rochester Thursday to discuss ideas to make voting more efficient and not so expensive.

"This last election had a feel that I hadn't experienced since the Jesse Ventura election," said Mark Ritchie

Record voters showed up to the polls last November, with an unusually large number of young and old voters, but there's always room from improvement.

"Even in this state, the top voting state in the nation, a million people didn't vote last November that could have," said Ritchie.

Mark Ritchie says one of the things that may increase turnout is having full online voter registration.

"That's the kind of thing that can save money, can make the system better and also it's making use of technology that now you know kind of everyone pretty much has access to," says Ritchie.

In Iowa, voters can cast ballots 40 days before the general election.

"They've had a large reduction in the number of people that they must handle on election day and that's helped them to reduce staff and save money," said Ritchie.

Local election officials say they've seen a rise in absentee voting, so allowing early voting could make it easier.

"The only thing I would hope that would help us with this bottleneck is that we are allowed to process the absentees or early voting as we go along," said Mark Krupski, Olmsted County Director of Property Records and Licensing.

Ritchie says voting by mail is also another popular option.

"Of about 18 hundred townships, 500 of them have made that choice already so we know it’s something people want to do and Minnesota is considering changing of law to get on that bandwagon," said Ritchie.

In the meantime, Ritchie says Minnesota continues to rank high in voter participation.

"Minnesota remains that place other states come to learn from us and we use that as an opportunity to say hey how did that work for you," said Ritchie.

These are all ideas that are being discussed around the state. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says now is the time - in between general elections - to experiment with how to improve upon voting options.