Democratic Minnesota Governor Gives GOP Minority Veto Power Over Voting Rights Legislation

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL)

Last November, Minnesota voters replaced Republican majorities in the state Senate and House of Representatives with new majorities from the Democratic Farm Labor Party (DFL), Minnesota’s Democratic Party. But as the popularly elected Democratic majority prepares important legislation to make it easier for Minnesotans to vote, Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) has decided to give the Republican minority the power to block the effort if it is not to their liking.

The MinnPost notes that Dayton has said he will not sign any election reform bill that does not garner bipartisan support in the legislature. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R) boasted Friday that the governor’s move “gives us a little bit of power, too — almost like a veto. If we don’t put any Republican votes up, he’s pledged to veto that stuff.” Daudt hits the nail on the head: a veto is precisely what Dayton is giving the Minnesota Republicans.

Minnesota Republicans have stood unanimously against the majority’s proposals to expand early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. They say their top election concern is the largely mythical issue of election integrity — though their opposition to expanding voting rights could also stem from the fact that “unlikely voters” tend to be less likely to support GOP candidates.

While in the majority in the last legislative session, Minnesota Republicans put a strict voter ID constitutional amendment before the voters — allegedly to address election integrity concerns. While early polls showed strong support, by Election Day voters solidly rejected the proposal.

In his time in the U.S. Senate and as Governor, Dayton has generally been a solid progressive. But rather than recognize that Minnesotans rejected the voter suppression tactics of the GOP — and embraced the pro-voting rights DFL — Dayton’s curious move is giving the minority the power to suppress the voting rights of Minnesotans.