There weren't many shining highlights that come to mind with the conclusion of the Minnesota's 2009 legislative session but a scaled back election reform bill is one we'll unashamedly urge Gov. Tim Pawlenty to sign.
The legislation didn't have the photo ID requirement Republicans had sought to include but it does move the primary up to August from its current September time slot. That's a reform we welcome because it will decrease the number of overseas absentee ballots that are not counted because of a too-tight time frame.
Most of these overseas ballots are cast by people who serve in our military or in the foreign service. Of this subset of the electorate, a congressional report said this week, one out of four votes go uncounted because of bureaucratic problems. It's always been a galling situation that the men and women who fight for our freedom often don't get the opportunity to have their votes counted because by the time ballots reach them at far-flung outposts there's not enough time for their ballots to be successfully mailed back home before the general election. Current state law calls for ballots be mailed overseas 30 days before the general election. If this bill becomes law it's expected the state will follow the 45-day guideline the federal government recommends.
The legislation also establishes new standards for absentee ballots which will make that process operate a little more smoothly.
Pawlenty should sign the election bill if for no other reason that it will likely mean that more military personnel and others who are serving this nation overseas will have their voices heard in the next election.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.