Senate Republicans release $17 million in HAVA funds

Today Senate Republicans approved the use of more than $17 million Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and CARES Act funds to secure and protect our elections. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Securing our elections is extremely important now as we confront this crisis,” said Senator Mike Goggin (R-Red Wing). “It is imperative that Minnesotans have complete confidence when they cast their ballot – confidence in the security of our elections and in the precautions taken to protect their health no matter how they choose to vote. This pandemic continues to remind us that reevaluating our current systems can lead to improvements. I was happy to support this bill to ensure we are prepared for the upcoming elections.”

“This bill protects our elections in August and in November so they are safe and secure in every part of the state,” said Senate State Government and Elections Committee Chairwoman Mary Kiffmeyer (R- Big Lake). “It is incredibly important that in a time of crisis, we don’t make hasty changes that may be confusing or unclear to the general electorate. Instead, we are empowering people the choice to vote in the manner most desirable to them: by absentee mail, absentee in-person, or in a secure voting location away from vulnerable populations.”

Roughly half of the funds can be used for any COVID-19 related needs such as temporary screens, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, protective equipment, and social distancing compliance, including extra staff to manage an expected increase of mail absentee ballots. The other half of funding can be used to more general election needs, including updating the Statewide Voter Registration System, election accessibility, and improved election security.

“It’s important every Minnesotan trust the process and the outcome of an election,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R- East Gull Lake). “This bill provides funding to protect people from COVID-19 and to protect the security of our elections.”

In addition to the funding, the bill allows for the one-time relocation of polling places by July 1, 2020, to protect vulnerable populations. Locations usually needed to be finalized before the end of the year previous to an election. The bill also allows the electronic filing of an affidavit of candidacy and electronic signatures for nominations petitions.