Suspend Physical Petitioning For Minor Parties In MN Require A Filing Fee Instead

 

URGENT POLICY CHANGE REQUEST ~ TO ACCOMMODATE THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY 
DECLARATION MADE FOR MINNESOTA HEALTH SAFETY ~ AS IT APPLIES TO 
CURRENT MINOR POLITICAL PARTY PETITIONING PRACTICES AND REQUIREMENTS*

TO: Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan; Secretary of 
State Steve Simon; the State Senate’s Government Finance and Policy 
and Elections Committee; and the State House’s Subcommittee on Elections

On March 11 the World Health Organization designated coronavirus, or 
COVID-19, a global pandemic. On March 13 President Trump declared a 
U.S. national emergency. Additionally, on March 13, Governor Walz 

announced a peacetime emergency here in Minnesota. As of today, March 
14 the Minnesota Department of Health has so far confirmed 21 cases of 
positive test results for people having coronavirus.

Gov. Walz has put forth a series of “community mitigation strategies” 
which include asking Minnesotans to avoid large gatherings, to do 
their work from home if possible, and to avoid being within six feet 
of contact of others at smaller gatherings to limit interactions as 
much as possible.

In exactly 60 days the state’s three minor political parties (the 
Libertarian, Independence-Alliance, and Green Parties of Minnesota) 
are given their limited two-week ballot access nominating petition 
signature gathering window. Each party must collect several thousand 
signatures during the last two weeks of May (only) to place candidates 
onto the fall general election ballot, something these three parties 
have done consistently every election cycle for decades.

The environment suddenly exists that makes this process an inherent 
health risk to not only the individuals who do the petitioning but 
also to the citizens being approached who get asked to sign a 
nominating petition. Petitioning requires constant and voluminous 
face-to-face interaction.

For scope, each of the 3 minor parties in Minnesota intends to dispatch dozens of volunteers 
to go door-to-door to gather 2000 signatures for President, 2000 
signatures for US Senate, 500 signatures for each of the 6 Minnesota 
legislative races we have planned, plus a 50% cushion. To find these 
10,000 willing signatures often requires knocking on over 5 times as 
many doors. We are already seeing in other states where petitioning is 
currently underway, people are avoiding petitioners (rightly so) which 
is doubling or tripling the number of door knocking interactions needed.

With the health and safety of all Minnesotans being paramount during 
this outbreak, as well as to maintain fair elections, we hereby make a 
formal request to Governor Walz, Secretary Simon, the State Senate 
Elections Committee, and the State House Elections Subcommittee to act 
immediately to suspend the physical petitioning requirement and/or the 
current filing deadline which is currently set as June 2, 2020.

An efficient solution already exists, if acted on, in proposed bills 
SF752 (companion HF708). Introduced in 2019 and amended in 2020 (via 
H0708A2) these bills remain stuck in the listed committees. If passed 
it would allow our political parties who have achieved over 1% in the 
last state wide vote to put candidates onto ballots using internal 
party process, such as by convention endorsement, or by filing fee, or 
with a deadline extended to mid-August (around the time of the state 
primary, 77 days prior to the general).

Enacting these proposals will change behaviors for (the only) three 
minor parties that exist in Minnesota. This will result in preventing 
hundreds of thousands of face-to-face interactions soon.

Please act now to preserve public health alongside fair elections. 
Let’s not hurt one in the name of the other. We look forward to 
working with the Governor, the Secretary of State, and other state 
officials to prioritize the rights and the well being of all 
Minnesotans.

Signed March 14, 2020;
Chris Holbrook, Libertarian Party of Minnesota Chair
Phil Fuehrer, Independence-Alliance Party of Minnesota Chair
Trahern Crews, Green Party of Minnesota Chair

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Showing 2 reactions

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  • Stephen Verchinski
    commented 2020-03-25 16:29:13 -0500
    Thank you for posting this. In New Mexico we have no alternative at this time. Would you recommend a special session ? Are any other states finding a solution?
  • Trahern Crews
    published this page in Recent Updates 2020-03-18 14:46:51 -0500

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