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Panel approves online voter registration bill

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ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s online voter registration system moved a step closer to winning the Legislature’s blessing Monday.

The Senate Elections Subcommittee voted unanimously to approve a bill that authorizes the system that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie put in place in September without the Legislature’s specific authorization.

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That sparked a sharp reaction from Democratic-Farmer-Labor and Republican lawmakers, Gov. Mark Dayton and the legislative auditor, who argued Ritchie should have gotten legislative approval first. The secretary contended existing law gave him the legal power to start registering voters electronically.

But Ritchie’s action is being challenged in court by a group of Republican legislators and two election watchdog groups. Ramsey County District Court Judge John Guthmann is expected to rule on the case this month.

The Legislature could pre-empt the court by passing the bill before Guthmann issues his decision.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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