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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

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Electronic Roster Task Force Recommends Further Study of Electronic Rosters, More Locations for Evaluation in 2014 Election
Posted Date: 1/31/2014

Contact: Nathan Bowie, (651) 297-8919, nathan.bowie@state.mn.us

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota — The Electronic Roster Task Force, chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, recommends in its report today to the Minnesota Legislature to further study and review electronic rosters, including expanding and evaluating their use at more locations during the 2014 General Election. Electronic rosters are an alternative to the paper sign-in process now used at polling places. View the task force’s full report online: www.sos.state.mn.us/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=13414

“Electronic rosters have the potential to improve the voter experience, while saving taxpayer dollars,” says Ritchie. “It’s important to evaluate this tool to accurately judge the costs and benefits.”

The 15-member task force, established last May by the Minnesota Legislature, was charged to study and review the use of electronic rosters. Last year the Minnesota Legislature also authorized an electronic roster pilot project in five cities for the 2013 election; a report on this pilot project is available online: www.sos.state.mn.us/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=13418

Electronic Roster Task Force Electronic Roster Recommendations

• The Legislature should authorize a study to be conducted during the 2014 General Election to evaluate electronic rosters in a more high-volume election.

• The Legislature should appropriate funds to offset the costs of the 2014 electronic roster study for local election officials.

• Minimum functionality requirements should be set for electronic rosters.

• Minimum data security requirements should be set for electronic rosters.

• No photos should be used in electronic rosters at this time.

• The Legislature should appropriate funds to provide for a formal evaluation of the 2014 electronic roster study.

In addition to the task force recommendation of an additional study for the 2014 election, the group notes that nothing prevents a jurisdiction from using electronic rosters so long as the electronic rosters comply with Minnesota law.

Benefits of Electronic Rosters
The task force report to the Legislature notes several of the benefits of electronic rosters, such as: voter line and traffic management; prevents voters from seeing other voters’ information; provides information for election judge staffing by tracking the number of voters throughout day; and ensures for more accurate voter records.

About the Electronic Roster Task Force
The task force membership consists of elections officials and staff from local governments, state departments and the Legislature. The governor had authority to appoint three individuals to the group: two election judges and one person familiar with electronic roster technology. No member was permitted to represent, nor have a financial interest in, a specific vendor of the technology.

Since convening in July 2013, the task force held nine meetings to research the following issues:

• Electronic roster technology, including different types of electronic rosters; this involved hearing presentations from many electronic roster vendors to learn about their technology, reliability, security and potential cost savings.

• The ability to use voters’ photographs received from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Vehicle Services.

• The ability to add voters’ photographs to the roster on Election Day.

• Data security in electronic rosters, the Statewide Voter Registration System, and the DPS Division Vehicle Services.

• Reliability of DPS Division of Vehicle Services data, including the ability to match names and photographs without duplication.

• Ability of precincts across the state to connect an electronic roster to a secure network to access the Statewide Voter Registration System.

• Direct and indirect costs associated with using electronic rosters.

“I greatly appreciate the important contributions from the members of this task force, and all of their staff, who provided expertise, insight and ideas,” says Ritchie.

The task force members are:

• Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State

• Vaughn Bodelson, election judge 

• Kathy Bonnifield, election judge

• Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL–Minnetonka)

• Debby Erickson, Crow Wing County auditor

• Max Hailperin, Gustavus Aldolphus College, professor in mathematics and computer science

• Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R–Big Lake)

• Rep. Carolyn Laine (DFL–Columbia Heights)

• David Maeda, City of Minnetonka election official and representative of the League of Minnesota Cities

• Pat McCormack, DPS Driver and Vehicle Services director

• Rep. Tom O’Driscoll (R–Sartell)

• Carolyn Parnell, MN.IT commissioner

• Gary Poser, Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State elections director

• Grace Wachlarowicz, representative of the Minnesota School Boards Association

• Barb Welty, Kathio Township election official and representative of the Minnesota Association of Townships.

About the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is the chief election official in Minnesota and is responsible for the administration of the state’s election law. In this capacity, the office operates the Statewide Voter Registration System and prepares the official roster of voters for every election. The office also accepts filings by candidates, trains local election officials, and conducts voter education and outreach programs.

The Secretary of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of Minnesota and has the role of certifying the authenticity of a wide variety of official documents, including proclamations and executive orders.

A main function of the office is the review, approval and filing of articles of incorporation and amendments for all businesses and nonprofit organizations conducting business in Minnesota. The Office of the Secretary of State also processes all notary public applications; serves as the state’s central filing system for lien information related to the Uniform Commercial Code; and administers Safe at Home, an address confidentiality program designed to assist Minnesotans who fear for their safety.

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