Support For Voting Rights Restoration Grows In Minnesota

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September 10, 2015

St. Paul, Minn. – Recent professionally-conducted polling in Minnesota shows statewide support for voting rights restoration. A recent poll found that 46% of Minnesotans believe that individuals living in the community and paying taxes should be eligible to vote, even if they are still on probation or parole for a felony conviction, versus 44% who believe they should not.

Public Policy Polling, a professional non-partisan opinion research firm, asked the following question to 1015 registered voters in August 2015:

Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: Minnesota should adopt a policy that 20 other states use and allow those convicted of felonies to vote once they leave prison or jail.

Strongly agree 22%
Somewhat agree 24%
Somewhat disagree 18%
Strongly disagree 26%
Not sure 10%

41% of respondents identified themselves as conservative, and 33% as liberal: Very liberal 13%;  Somewhat liberal 20%; Moderate 26%; Somewhat conservative 25%; Very conservative 16%

“Disenfranchising American citizens has always been a bad thing – politically and morally – throughout our nation’s history. Liberty Minnesota is proud to support the effort to empower Minnesotans and give them a voice in their government,” stated Karl Eggers of Liberty Minnesota.

The Restore the Vote Coalition is working to restore voting rights to over 47,000 Minnesota citizens who live in the community but are unable to vote due to a felony conviction. Current Minnesota policy prohibits individuals from voting until they have finished all terms of their sentence, including probation, parole or conditional release.

Restoring voting rights to fellow Minnesotans who live in the community and pay taxes is supported by people across the ideological spectrum,” stated Jason Adkins, Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference. “Our coalition has had thousands of conversations with Minnesotans across the state who believe that allowing all Minnesota citizens who live in the community to vote would make our communities stronger, more engaged and more just. Polling only tell us so much based on a very short question. Once people understand the issue better and how it impacts Minnesotans and their families, we are finding that a strong majority support this change.”

The Restore the Vote Coalition, is made up of 72 organizations from across the state including, public safety organizations, governmental bodies, advocacy organizations and faith based groups.

The history and impact of felony disenfranchisement

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The University of Minnesota Law Review recently published an article on the history and impact of felony disenfranchisement in Minnesota by Mark Haase, a private attorney who represents the Council on Crime and Justice, a member of Restore the Vote MN.

Here is a summary:

Minnesota has retained essentially the same disenfranchisement law adopted upon gaining statehood in 1857. However, since that time, Minnesota’s criminal justice system has undergone massive changes, especially in its expansion in scope—resulting in one of the highest rates of correctional control in the country, and therefore one of the highest rates of felony disenfranchisement in the country and by far in the region. A cost-benefit analysis reveals that there are no tangible benefits to Minnesota’s current disenfranchisement policy, that its costs are high, and that there are tangible benefits to reform. The policy provides no public safety benefit, may even reduce public safety, perpetuates racial disparities, confuses elections, and unnecessarily expends government resources. These negative policy impacts weighed against little to no benefit, combined with changes in criminal justice politics and recent national events, may provide a ripe time for reforming this outdated policy.

Read the complete law review article.

An Open Letter to Speaker Daudt

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Dear Speaker Daudt,

This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act. When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 ALL members of the Minnesota delegation voted for it. That speaks so strongly to Minnesota’s value of supporting a strong, engaged and fair electorate which rings true across party lines. We have a chance to show that we can come together and uphold this ideal, by passing voting rights restoration.

We ask you to take advantage of the upcoming special session to complete some unfinished business from the regular session – the restoration of voting rights to the approximately 47,000 Minnesotans who live in our communities but still cannot vote due to a felony conviction. This legislation was passed during the regular session by the Senate and we are grateful Governor Dayton has made it one of his priorities for the special session. However, despite strongly bipartisan authorship and support, and despite the diverse membership of our statewide coalition, rights restoration legislation was never allowed to even have a hearing in the House. We met with every Representative that would take a meeting and provided them with detailed, fact-based information. Furthermore, we engaged thousands of Minnesota citizens to speak with their Representatives on this issue. We are deeply disappointed that, despite our success in doing everything a group of citizens can do to bring a policy issue to a vote by our elected leaders, a decision was made behind closed doors to block it from moving forward. We hope you will take this opportunity to give this bipartisan legislation the public consideration it deserves.

As you can see by our membership of over 70 organizations from across the state, voting restoration has support from diverse and important perspectives. We all support restoring voting rights because we believe that once it has been decided that someone can live among us, there is no good reason they should not have a voice in our democracy – taking the positive step of voting should be encouraged. People who feel a part of their communities, and have an opportunity to positively engage in their communities, are less likely to reoffend. Current law is confusing and this change will create a much clearer rule about who can vote, which would save valuable law enforcement resources and make it simpler for all Minnesotans to engage in our state’s democracy.  We should insist on responsibility and consequences for crime, but we should not simply punish for punishment’s sake.  Instead we should work to rehabilitate people and allow them to be a positive example for their children. These friends, neighbors and family members of ours are expected to pay taxes and be subject to our laws and yet current policy denies them the right to vote. This is not the America or the Minnesota that our founders envisioned.

For the above reasons we ask that you, as a statewide leader, support voting restoration language being voted on by the full House during special session.  This issue is extremely important to many Minnesotans and it deserves public consideration. Please also consider the impact on your own constituents and their families. Estimates of Minnesotans disenfranchised in the counties in your district are as follows: Anoka County 3,689, 1.5% of the voting age population; Isanti County 464, 1.6% of the voting age population; and Sherburne County 988, 1.6% of the voting age population. The statewide average disenfranchisement rate is 1.5%.

Thank you.


The Restore the Vote Coalition

47,000 Minnesota Citizen’s Voting Rights Were Not Restored This Legislative Session

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May 19, 2015

Despite broad bi-partisan support and an incredibly strong coalition backing it, voting rights restoration legislation failed to pass this legislative session. The bill did pass the Senate, which marks the first time the bill passed a legislative body in all the years it has been introduced.  At numerous points throughout the session the bill generated so much buzz and support that it seemed likely to pass, however, it was never given a hearing in the House. The purpose of the bill is to restore voting rights to individuals with felony convictions who live in the community but are unable to vote because they are still on probation, parole or conditional release.

The following statement can be attributed to Mark Haase, co-chair of the Restore the Vote Coalition.

“While we are incredibly disappointed that 47,000 Minnesotans will not be re-enfranchised this year, we would like to thank all of the sponsors and supporters of this bill.  We are proud of the progress that rights restoration made this year, this issue was finally given the attention it deserved. It was heavily discussed and debated not only at the Capitol, but in the public. Many of the major newspapers endorsed rights restoration legislation and thousands of Minnesotans contacted their legislators asking for voting rights to be restored. I would also like to thank all of the hardworking members of our coalition, it was because of our diverse coalition that this issue finally made some progress. We are not giving up, our coalition is committed to making Minnesota more fair, just and equitable for all. We will continue to fight for this issue until rights have been restored to those 47,000 Minnesotans who live in our communities, but are denied their right to vote.”

The Restore the Vote Coalition, is made up of 72 organizations from across the state including, public safety organizations, governmental bodies, advocacy organizations and faith based groups.


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Wednesday April 29 – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Minnesota Capitol.

Rally At Noon on north lawn of the State Office Building

  • When you arrive, go to room 400N in the State Office Building. That room will serve as a “homebase” from there you will be directed to lobby day visits or other activities.
  • RSVP via email and join our Facebook Page.

We are getting into the final stretch of the 2015 legislative session and we need your help to get this bill passed this session. 47,000 Minnesotans have waited too long to have their voting rights restored and it is now within our grasp to change that. We need this Day of Action at the Capitol to keep the pressure on our elected officials and rally our supporters. We need you to make this day successful. The Day will include lobby visits and a rally. Questions? email us at:


Update on the 2015 Legislative Session

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We are over halfway through the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session!  While our bill has made great progress there is still work to do. Please take a few minutes to let the leadership of the Minnesota House know that restoring the right to vote is important to you!

The Bill is included in the Senate Omnibus bill but has not been heard in the House.  Here is what you can do to help:

House Leadership needs to know our support and be encouraged to support the Voting Restoration bill, HF 342. Please  contact both of them and ask your contacts to do the same. Also, yell Representative Cornish that you support this bill and thank him for his great leadership as chief author and ask him to please push this bill forward. 

Tony Cornish (23B, R)
369 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155

Kurt Daudt (31A, R) – Speaker of the House
463 State Office Building
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-5364 or 800-710-7642

Joyce Peppin (R) District 34A – House Majority Leader
* 459 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155

Thank you for taking action today!

Second Chance Day on the Hill

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Please join us for Second Chance Day on the Hill on January 29th! While this Day on the Hill covers a number of important issues relating to people impacted by the criminal justice system, one of the main focuses will be rights restoration. Second Chance Day on the Hill will be held on January 29th, 10:00 am at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, 105 University Ave W, St Paul. The Second Chance Coalition will have buses driving to the capital from Duluth, St. Cloud and two Minneapolis sites. More details are available at the Second Chance Coalition website.

For questions contact Josh Esmay at

We are ready for the 2015 Legislative Session

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The 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session has officially begun! The three subcommittees of our campaign, Legislative, Communications, and Organizing have been busy preparing.

We will be formally kicking off the campaign with a lobby day and press conference at the Capitol on January 29, as part of the Second Chance Day on the Hill. More details to come soon.

We hope you can join us for our next meeting on Monday, January 12, at 9:00 a.m. at Redeemer’s Arms  –  313 Dale Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55103.

If you are interested in getting more involved please contact Mark Haase at

Thank you!

Join us for a door knock to restore voting rights

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This election season over 50,000 people living in our communities will have their voices silenced when they are unable to vote. Our campaign, Restore the Vote, is trying to change that, and we need your help.  We need to bring the message to the streets that we are creating a movement to restore voting rights and we want them to join our campaign. Engaging the larger community, and people who are affected by these bad laws, are critical to the success of our campaign. This is why we need you to join us for a rally and door knock on September 20th.

We will be hitting the doors in North Minneapolis and on the East-side of St. Paul to talk with voters about our campaign, ask them to fill out action post cards (which will be sent to their legislators and the Governor) and to register people to vote.  Register today!

When: Saturday, September 20, 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where: Neighborhoods Organizing for Change – 911 West Broadway Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55411 or Hope Lutheran Church 1340 Hazel St N St Paul, MN 55119 

Please invite your friends and family to join you for this important day of action. Too many of our friends and family members have been excluded from one of our most fundamental rights for too long. Please join us on September 20 for this exciting day of community building.

Minnesota Prison Gerrymandering Strategy Discussion

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Thursday August 21, 9:00-11:00 a.m., League of Women Voters 550 Rice St., St. Paul, MN 55103.

Please join us for a discussion of strategy to end prison gerrymandering in Minnesota.

RSVP to Mark Haase at

The Minnesota State Constitution says that incarcerated people remain legal residents of their home addresses, but the U.S. Census counts incarcerated people as residents of the often-remote prison cells. When Minnesota uses this flawed data to draw legislative districts, the state gives extra influence to the districts that contain prisons and dilutes the votes of every resident in the state who doesn’t live next to a large prison. (A similar, but even more dramatic, problem occurs when rural cities and counties that contain large prisons use this data to draw their city and county district lines.) So far, four states have passed legislation that counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location, and the U.S. Census Bureau is considering changes as well.

The national expert on prison gerrymandering, Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative, will be in Minnesota the day before for a conference with the Census Bureau and national redistricting experts, so we are setting up this meeting so that Peter can share his work and experience with us. Peter will share his Minnesota research with us and lead a discussion about how the successful campaigns in New York, Maryland, Delaware and California can inform our work here in Minnesota.

This is an issue that the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters have worked on in the past, and even had legislation introduced, and now is an excellent time to put together a plan for a successful reform effort in the next legislative session.

We hope you can join us. If you have questions please contact Mark Haase at