Minnesota House of Representatives passes the Democracy for the People Act

(KSTP) -Thursday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Democracy for the People Act, according to an official release.

The legislation protects the freedom to vote, reduces the influence of dark money and foreign influence in Minnesota politics and ensures fair and inclusive democracy for all Minnesotans, the news release said.

The act also creates automatic voter registration and allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. The bill also allows all Minnesota voters to choose to vote by mail on a permanent absentee ballot list.

Additionally, the bill would create penalties for spreading false information about voting 60 days before an election and protect voters and election officials from harassment. An individual convicted of interfering with a person registering to vote or casting a ballot could face a gross misdemeanor or be sued.

“This is a critical moment for our democracy,” said Representative Emma Greenman (DFL – Minneapolis), the author of the bill. “We know that solving our most significant challenges requires all of us to come together and build a democracy that centers the voices of all Minnesotans. Minnesotans gave us a mandate to act with urgency to protect and strengthen our democracy, and that is what this legislation does. In the North Star State, we are showing the country what a strong, inclusive, multi-racial democracy looks like.”

The bill also removes language barriers by requiring voting instructions and ballots to be provided in non-English languages.

The legislation aims to close dark money loopholes and increase transparency of who is contributing to Minnesota elections. It also prohibits foreign-influence corporations from making direct contributions to candidates or political parties.

“Our democracy works best when all Minnesotans have the opportunity to participate and make their voices heard,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Minnesotans want to ensure that voters always will have the biggest say in the decisions that will impact their lives. Our legislation will strengthen the freedom to vote, protect our democratic institutions and Minnesota voters, and empower voters, not corporations or wealthy special interests in our elections.”

“This is a great day for the people of Minnesota as we take one more step in strengthening and protecting our democracy. The Democracy for the People Act protects and expands voting rights, strengthens our elections, and increases transparency of money in politics. I want to thank my colleagues and co-chair of the Inclusive Democracy Caucus Representative Emma Greenman for her leadership, and I look forward to passing this bill soon in the Senate and getting it to the Governor’s desk,” added Senator Liz Boldon (DFL-Rochester).

More information about the Democracy for the People Act is available here. Video of the debate and vote can be found on the House Public Information page.

This story first appeared on KSTP.