More than five months after Americans went to the polls, election security continues to be an issue across the nation. Some perspective from Ramsey County on efforts to safeguard the integrity of our balloting should ease voters’ minds.
Security was a key factor as his department prepared to implement voting technology upgrades launched in 2016, explains Elections Manager Joe Mansky.
One of the first decisions made: “We wanted our new system to be unplugged, to be non-networked,” he told us. “The reason for it was simple. We saw the networking as a security risk.”
In St. Paul, there are only a few areas where bipartisanship is not just a lofty goal, it’s a requirement. That includes any changes lawmakers want to make to the state’s election and voting systems. Gov. Mark Dayton, like former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has said he’ll only sign election-related bills if the proposals have broad support from legislators in both parties — no matter who’s in power. It’s a tradition that some say has bolstered Minnesota’s strong election system, which has some of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation and few instances of fraud.
Minnesota’s local government officials say searching the eBay online auction site for voting machine parts is not the best way to keep the foundation of democracy running smoothly. The company that made much of Minnesota’s voting equipment, especially for disabled voters, has moved on to newer technologies and parts for machines used in most Minnesota polling places are hard to find.
Minnesota’s voting equipment is aging out, and without legislative help, the burden of about $28 million in replacement costs will fall squarely on cities and counties. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met Monday with the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools to drum up support for a state-funded solution to voting infrastructure now more than a decade old. He’s not asking for the Legislature to foot the bill for the entire cost, rather follow Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal calling for a 50-50 split between the state and local governments.
Local lawmakers say they would support efforts to allow voters to physically cast their ballot more than a week ahead of Election Day. State law allows counties to give voters the option of casting an absentee ballot in person within seven days of the election. Legislators said the process was popular in the 2016 election in Washington County and the county saved taxpayer money by not having to process as many absentee ballots the traditional way. They agreed it should be expanded, suggesting a 14-day window. It’s another way to get more people voting, said Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St.
Rigged? Fraudulent? Excuse me, but as Donald Trump might interject: “Wrong!”
In Minnesota, we can have confidence in our election outcomes. For the past 12 years, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN), a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, has worked to ensure accurate, transparent and verifiable elections in Minnesota. As the founder of CEIMN, I helped organize seven statewide observations of Minnesota’s postelection audits and recounts.
Here are five reasons you can be confident that the results of next month’s election will be accurate and verifiable.
As more and more of our world goes digital, what important system relies on paper records any more? Democracy, for one. The heart of Minnesota’s plan to safeguard the 2016 election from hackers and fraudsters is a sheet of paper that people mark with a pen. No matter what happens to voting tabulators or election databases, officials can count those piles of paper ballots. “It’s ironic, isn’t it?” said Secretary of State Steve Simon, who will be on the hot seat if anything goes haywire on Nov. 8.
A Crow Wing County resident Tuesday raised concerns about whether a barcode on his ballot could contain identifying information. Charlie Makidon of Gail Lake Township told the county board during open forum he believes the primary election ballot he received by mail is “marked” by a QR code printed at the bottom. “To 99 percent of the people, this is a marked ballot,” Makidon said. “What does the code say?
About the event: Thursday, February 25 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Wellstone Center at Neighborhood House, 179 Robie St E, St Paul, MN 55107.
Join Secretary Simon five days before precinct caucuses to learn about new voter outreach efforts and hear how you can get involved in 2016.
After the Secretary's address, choose from one of two brief workshops (approximately 12:50 - 1:30):
Right now, if a natural disaster or other major issue happens when Minnesotans head out to vote, there’s no emergency plan in place.Minnesota is now one step closer to being prepared for an election day emergency. The Elections Emergency Planning Task Force is a group of 14 members consisted of election officials, and experts when it comes to emergency planning. Over the course of six meetings last year, they made a few recommendations.