Commentary by Mark Halvorson
Oct. 9, 2020
Duluth News Tribune
We know you’ve heard the horror stories. We know there are some who want to discredit our election system. We know there are some who want to do damage to our democracy.
We at Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota take seriously the concerns of voters across the state who are reasonably asking: Can I trust voting by mail? Will voting systems be adequately protected from foreign interference? Will my ballot be accurately counted?
Yes to all of the above. Let us repeat with confidence: yes, yes, and yes.
With the anticipated surge in mail-in ballots, and mindful of the alarming stories about the security of our elections, here is what you can expect from Minnesota’s finely tuned election process.
First, experience counts. Over the past decade, Minnesota has established procedures to make mail voting more accessible and reliable. These procedures ensure that voters can efficiently apply online for absentee ballots. They also permit voters to receive a replacement ballot if there is any problem with their mailed ballot.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon believes that Minnesota’s system is safe, secure, and time-tested. Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan believes Minnesota’s system includes sufficient safeguards, and she has confidence in the absentee ballot system.
The U.S postmaster general recently issued a directive authorizing the use of additional resources beginning Oct. 1 to ensure that election mail reaches its destination in a timely manner. These measures include expanded processing procedures, extra delivery and collection trips, and overtime pay.
Be assured: voting histories will be checked to prevent double voting. If you decide to go to the polls on Election Day, no one will be able to vote twice. Procedures that clearly identify and compare who has voted absentee and who is voting at the polling place on Election Day ensure that no one votes both in-person and absentee.
There will be measures to secure voting systems, too. The Office of the Secretary of State has been working with Homeland Security to prevent the compromise of our election systems. The state has hired a coordinator who ensures that the local units of government, the state, private vendors, and federal agencies are all working together. The focus on cybersecurity extends across all aspects of election administration.
Our election officials can begin processing mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day so that those votes can be counted and included in election-night reporting. This November, ballots postmarked by Election Day will continue arriving and will be counted for up to seven days. Election officials will also publicly report the number of mail ballots still outstanding so we have a context for changing results.
Since 2006, Minnesota has conducted post-election audits of randomly selected precincts statewide. Ballots are counted by hand to check the accuracy of voting machines, and the results have consistently shown that the voting machines are accurate.
If you are voting absentee by mail, give your vote a boost with these simple steps: Vote early so you have time to correct any potential problems. Check that you have signed your absentee ballot application. And vote with confidence, but track your ballot online at the Secretary of State’s website so you know whether there is a problem with your ballot acceptance. Voters can also drop off completed ballots at their local elections offices.
However you do it — absentee, early voting, or on Election Day — please exercise your fundamental American right to vote. And do so with confidence knowing that our system in Minnesota works.
Mark Halvorson of Minneapolis is the former director and current board chair of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (ceimn.org).