365体育投注ST. PAUL — St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda in a letter to clergy urged them to abstain from Minnesota's Tuesday, March 3 presidential primaries.
365体育投注Hebda last week relayed the advice from the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which works as the public policy voice for the church. The guidance came days before Minnesota voters are set to weigh in on the presidential race.
365体育投注The Minnesota Catholic Conference is one of the latest groups to raise red flags about voting in the primary as the state prepares for its first presidential primary in almost three decades. And state lawmakers were expected to continue conversations about toughening restrictions on how the data can be used Tuesday.
Lawmakers in 2016 agreed to make the move from caucuses to primaries in the presidential contests. And in 2018, in order to comply with the national parties' data collection and verification rules, they decided that parties can access lists of which voters voted in which primaries.
There are currently no restrictions in state law for what the parties do with the data, and some fear party leaders could publish, sell or disseminate it.
Because state lawmakers have not explicitly prohibited political parties from releasing data on which ballot each voter chooses in the primary "it could be seen as 'partisan' political activity to align oneself with a party and to vote in its primary, which the Church generally discourages clergy from doing for evangelical reasons, more so than tax ones," Hebda's letter said.
Jason Adkins, executive director of the Catholic Conference, said he offered guidance to the clergy because he wanted members to know about the possibility of their information being made public. And he said the conference would welcome legislative changes that could enhance voters' privacy.
365体育投注"Counseling the avoidance of partisan political activity helps ensure that the priest retains an identity as a credible witness of the Gospel," Adkins said in a statement. "Especially in light of the political polarization and identity politics of today, the ability of a priest to form consciences for faithful citizenship depends, in part, on his ability to transcend the partisan divide and not have his catechesis tainted by the suspicion of partisanship."
365体育投注City, county and nonpartisan state workers, as well as judges and county attorneys, have also raised concerns about their bosses or constituents learning their partisan affiliations.
At the Capitol, lawmakers started work on legislation that would allow those in possession of the data to use it only to ensure voters didn't cross over or otherwise throw off the primary results. That plan last week on 72-55 vote. Members of the Senate were set to take up a separate proposal on Tuesday.
Republican lawmakers and Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan have said they don't want to hastily change the rules around the data before Election Day. And they noted that their plan to place the voter preference data under the state's privacy laws and set in place penalties of $1,000 to $15,000 for those who would willfully share it could help alleviate concerns about the data becoming public.
"I think it's important that we do protect people's data," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said Monday. "What we think works best is that we have much stricter penalties on how that data's used and penalties as a result of you abusing it."
365体育投注GOP, DFL and Legal Marijuana Now Party leaders have said they plan to keep the lists private. While lists of voters who cast ballots in each primary will be available to each of the parties, the candidates for whom they cast their ballots will remain private. Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party hasn't publicly commented about its plan for the data.