Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Minnesota Law Requires Publicly Supported Nonprofits to Offer Voter Registration Services

Here is a little tidbit that Paul Harvey would be proud to report.  It seems that in Minnesota a little known statute requires nonprofit organizations who receive state funding to offer voter registration services.  According to a story at MinnPost.Com today:

Here's a surprising nugget from the pages of Minnesota election law. If a nonprofit organization receives state funding to provide services, it is required to help with voter registration. Joshua Winters, who coordinates the Minnesota Participation Project for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, gave me the citation: Statute 201.162.

I checked out the statute for myself and, just as the article states, the statute requires the following: 


The commissioner or chief administrative officer of each state agency or community-based public agency or nonprofit corporation that contracts with the state agency to carry out obligations of the state agency shall provide voter registration services for employees and the public. A person may complete a voter registration application or apply to change a voter registration name or address if the person has the proper qualifications on the date of application. Nonpartisan voter registration assistance, including routinely asking members of the public served by the agency whether they would like to register to vote and, if necessary, assisting them in preparing the registration forms must be part of the job of appropriate agency employees.

The article describes the high trust and confidence people place in nonprofit organizations and thus, the motivation for requiring nonprofits to serve as state voter registration agents.  We all know that 501(c)(3) organizations must tread lightly with respect to voter registration/education activities but now (with apologies to Paul Harvey) . . . we know the rest of the story.



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