Democracy Is Like a Streetcar

When you get to your stop, you get off. This famously cynical pronouncement by Turkey’s Recep Erdogan has been taken to heart by American Democrats. Just win once, and we never have to worry about losing again! Here in Minnesota, the Democrats now control the House, Senate (by a single vote) and the governorship, and their radical agenda extends to remaking the state’s election laws to their advantage.

In his weekly Capitol Watch newsletter, my colleague Bill Walsh explains:

The DFL Election Agenda

There is a tradition in the Minnesota legislature that bills dealing with election law achieve bi-partisan support. Governors Tim Pawlenty and Mark Dayton each abided by this tradition and refused to sign election law changes that didn’t have bi-partisan support. The premise being that election law, by its nature, is highly political, so changes should have support in both parties.

After supporting the tradition in his first term, Gov. Tim Walz suddenly has no use for it now that his party controls the House and Senate.

The difference is that before, the Democrats needed Republican votes. Now, they don’t. Is it going too far to say that bipartisanship is, always and everywhere, a fraud?

In fact, Democrats in the Minnesota legislature have a very aggressive agenda to change voter laws this session. All of their rhetoric involves some imaginary threat to democracy. All of their changes will result in more Democrats voting in the next election.

Or at least, more votes will be cast for Democrats. How many are cast by real, legal voters is another question.

Felon Voting

Minnesota’s justice system is heavily reliant on probation. We are in the bottom ten states in the country for incarceration rates. Felons serve one-third of their sentence in prison and the remaining two-thirds on probation. As our revolving door of justice problem shows, it takes a lot to actually end up in a Minnesota prison. To make matters worse from a criminal justice standpoint, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission recently voted to make all probation recommendations less than five years.

With that backdrop, Democrats want to allow convicted felons to vote even before their sentence is finished (in other words, once they are out of prison). Many felons never spend a day in prison so after this change, they will never lose their right to vote.

The Secretary of State’s office estimates the change will allow 55,000 people to vote before their sentence is completed. House Republicans offered several amendments including one that would exempt criminals convicted of voter fraud. Alas, all amendments were rejected on party-line votes. We don’t have definitive polling, but convicted felons probably lean Democrat. That was sarcasm. Of course they lean Democrat.

Is anyone surprised by the Democrats’ utter cynicism? I doubt it.

Automatic Voter Registration

This proposed change would automatically register everyone who receives a driver’s license or state ID card to vote. Right now, Minnesotans are given the option of automatic registration — all they have to do is check the box when they apply for a license. This change dovetails nicely with another Democrat priority allowing illegal aliens in Minnesota to acquire a driver’s license. But don’t worry, Secretary of State Steve Simon assures us no one will be registered who is not eligible to vote.

Democrats also plan to let 16 and 17-year-olds register to vote, even though they can’t vote until they’re 18. The stated reason for this is to get young people used to the registration process. Again, Secretary Simon assures us, no one will accidentally be allowed to vote at age 17 even though they are on the list of voters. We do have polling showing young people vote for Democrats more than Republicans.

The Democrats do everything they can to make voter fraud easy, and to make it unlikely to be detected. Then they assure us there is no voter fraud.

Lifetime Absentee List

The most dangerous change from a voter fraud standpoint is the creation of a lifetime absentee voter list, so voters won’t have to ask for a ballot each election. Making voting “automatic” under the guise of convenience is inviting fraud. Campaign workers will no longer have to “chase” absentee ballots through the process. Instead, they will door-knock the lifetime absentee list, knowing exactly when ballots will land in the mail for each county. This will increase the opportunity for fraud like what Project Veritas found in the 2020 primary in Minneapolis. They exposed campaign operatives intercepting ballots at the mailboxes of large apartment complexes and forcing people to fill them out before taking them en masse to the county. Of course we know Democrats have been much more likely to vote absentee in recent elections.

Our election systems have progressively gone downhill ever since we got away from the paradigm where voters show up at the polls in person on election day. The consequences of our current “election season” approach were not unintended.

Democracy Dollars

Another “automatic” process proposed by Democrats is their Democracy Dollars program, which would replace the Political Contribution Refund program. Each voter would automatically receive $50 in Democracy Dollar coupons that can be sent to the candidate or political party of their choice. Again, for the sake of convenience, the process can be automated by third parties so voters could simply designate where they want their taxpayer-funded political contribution to go. Imagine the fraud involved in computer software programs automatically sending money from the state treasury to political parties. At least with the PCR program, a voter has to initiate the process, send a donation to a candidate and wait for a refund from the state. Which party in Minnesota do you think will take better advantage of this program?

The last thing the DFL party needs is more money. In the last election cycle it out-spent Minnesota’s GOP by something like $23 million to $1.3 million.

Ranked Choice Voting

Five cities in Minnesota currently use ranked choice voting for their local elections. Democrats want to take this concept state-wide and use it for governor, Congress and the state legislature. American Experiment’s Bill Glahn has written extensively (here, here and here) about ranked choice voting and his conclusion may surprise you: the practice always pushes the electorate to the left, sometimes the extreme left. Not surprising given our theme that Democrats are pushing for ranked choice voting in Minnesota.

National Popular Vote

Why would anyone in Minnesota advocate for a national voting system that will drive presidential campaigns to the coasts and big cities while ignoring states in the Midwest? Fear of Donald Trump is your answer. Some believe without the electoral college, Donald Trump never would have occupied the White House. Democrats like Steve Simon are so afraid of another Trump presidency they are willing to sacrifice Minnesota’s influence in picking a president.

Sadly, I think most Minnesota Democrats would give up their right to vote for the president–or, to be fair, minimize the importance of that vote–if it means a smaller likelihood of a Republican being elected.

Bill is hopeful that the DFLers may conclude that some of these measures are too extreme:

National popular vote, ranked choice voting and the Democracy Dollars plan might be too hard for Democrats to explain to voters so they might not pass this session. But the other election law changes will probably pass the legislature and be signed by Governor Tim Walz, bi-partisanship be damned.

Let’s hope that assessment is not too optimistic.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.