Voting Rights & Access
Do you remember early voting in the 2016 cycle? The satellite precincts, the increased early voting, and the ease in voter registration did not happen by accident. As Chair of the Minneapolis Elections and Rule Committee, I ensured voting -- a fundamental right for our democracy -- was not only protected, but enhanced. While many states enacted draconian voter restriction laws and gutted early voting in order to disenfranchise people of color, younger, and lower-income voters for political purposes, I fought to ensure that Minneapolis expanded voter access by adding four new early voting precincts. Because of this early voting expansion, the percentage of people that voted early quadrupled from 7% in 2012 to a record breaking 28% this past election. Overall, more people in Minneapolis voted in 2016 than in any election in history.
I also authored and passed an ordinance requiring landlords to provide their new tenants with voter registration forms and information after they move in. In a city where more than half our residents are renters, who skew younger and less white than the population as a whole, it is imperative that we all do our part to ensure no one is deprived of their right to vote simply because they moved.
If elected, I'll focus on expanding access to the ballot by:
- Increase voter turnout by bringing early voting access to non-presidential elections. While the satellite precincts for early voting that I pushed for in the 2016 presidential election were a huge success, I want to do more to support early voting as Mayor. One of the most important responsibilities the Mayor has is to write the city's budget. I want to use the budgets that will be written by my administration to provide for early voting options in midterm elections and even municipal elections, particularly in communities of color that have been denied the ballot by an inaccessible voting process time and again.
- Double-down on protecting and expanding ballot access for renters. Minneapolis's pioneering law requiring landlords to provide tenants with voter registration forms and information is one of the laws I am most proud of having passed, a success that is spreading across the country as cities like Seattle follow our lead. As Mayor, I want to double down on this success with vigilant enforcement and penalties for landlords that refuse to comply. I will conduct a review of whether or not the city's approach to ensuring that landlords are complying with this ordinance is effective and, if it is lacking, lead the fight to make sure renters' rights are realized.
- Fight for automatic voter registration at the state level. Our country is nearly alone in requiring a two-step process for voting: opt-in registration followed by voting. While states across the country have begun moving toward an automatic voter registration model, Minnesota's state legislators haven't answered the call. Minneapolitans need a visible and present Mayor who will use the office to champion justice not just in City Hall, but at the State Legislature.
- Making voting more accessible for the Somali community. I am proud of the aforementioned work that I did to expand early voting in Minneapolis. But we have to do more than commend ourselves on the progress that we've made. This past election, too many voters in our Somali community faced unduly long lines because not enough translators were available at polling places in communities like Cedar-Riverside. And when thousands of Somalis turned out to caucus, organizing for an inclusive politics in the face of Trump presidency that has targeted so many members of their community, our party was not prepared enough to accommodate many of them. As mayor, I would fight to make sure that we invest the resources needed to ensure that people of all backgrounds are empowered on Election Days, and all days in between.