January 23, 2020 Media

Minnesota DFL Announces Support for Changes to Minnesota Primary Law to Protect Voter Privacy and Data

Today, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin announced his support for a legislative effort, led by Secretary of State Steve Simon and supported by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers, to protect party affiliation data collected during the Minnesota presidential primary.

“The Minnesota DFL strongly supports bi-partisan efforts to protect the privacy of Minnesotans voting in our presidential primary,” said DFL Chairman Ken Martin. “Here in Minnesota, we do not require voters to register with a particular political party, and we share the concerns of the Minnesotans who feel that widespread access to the party affiliation data collected during the primary is both a violation of their privacy and will act as a de facto party registration system.”

“The National Democratic and Republican Parties require records of who participates in their respective primaries solely for the purpose of certifying that partisan interference did not occur during those primaries,” said Martin. “However, it is possible to both comply with these requirements and prevent both parties from using the primary data for any other purposes. We urge the legislature to take swift action at the start of the legislative session in order to protect the privacy of Minnesota voters.”

The DFL supports efforts by Secretary of State Steve Simon and a bi-partisan coalition of legislators to amend Minnesota’s presidential primary law to include the following provisions:

  • Only a national party representative will receive party affiliation data and this data may only be used for the purposes of guaranteeing the validity of that primary
  • All information on which voters participated in a particular party’s presidential primary will be kept private under Minnesota’s Data Practices Act
  • All voters will be allowed to opt-out of the collection of party affiliation data when they cast their ballots in the presidential primary

“I am extremely disappointed that Jennifer Carnahan and the Minnesota Republican Party have decided to put their partisan interests ahead of the privacy of Minnesota voters,” added Martin. “In her statement this morning, Jennifer Carnahan called voters’ concerns over their privacy ‘baseless’ and I could not disagree more. The DFL has received numerous calls and emails from voters who fear participating in this primary because they feel it would violate their privacy, and editorial boards across Minnesota share these privacy concerns.”

“Additionally, Jennifer Carnahan accused the DFL of attempting to change the rules of the primary, which is completely false,” concluded Martin. “We simply want to protect the data of Minnesota voters after the primary takes place. Chairwoman Carnahan has had ample opportunity to suggest alternatives to protecting voter privacy, yet instead of doing so, she chose to lob partisan bombs that completely and willfully misrepresent the DFL’s position and cast aspersions of the concerns of Minnesota voters. We hope that lawmakers from both parties will see through these partisan attacks and act to protect the privacy of voters everywhere.”