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Saturday, January 28, 2023

After ballot errors in St. Paul and elsewhere, GOP secretary of state hopeful seeks tighter rules

Republican candidate Kim Crockett said Thursday that the Minnesota Legislature should require the secretary of state’s office to check every county’s ballots before they are shipped out as she criticized vote printing issues in Ramsey and three other counties.

Crockett agreed that Minnesota’s counties have long been in charge of checking the correctness of every precinct’s ballots, despite state law not requiring the secretary of state’s office to do so. She did, however, assert that Democratic incumbent Steve Simon ought to have discovered the mistakes given that counties are obligated to transmit copies to his office.

At a press conference, Crockett stated, “I think it’s a shared obligation, obviously, between the secretary’s office and the counties, and this is something I think the Legislature has to step in and solve right immediately.”

Crockett has been a sharp critic of Simon’s emphasis on voting convenience during the campaign. She reiterated her prior claim that President Donald Trump was the target of a “rigged” 2020 election and dubbed Simon’s efforts to encourage voting in the face of the epidemic as “lawless and politicized.” Republicans like her and others were particularly outraged by consent decrees Simon had made with organizations requesting interim adjustments, which judges had allowed. One of those laws was eventually challenged as being unconstitutional by a split federal appeals court, but the issue was never decided.

While many of Trump’s supporters have been misled into believing there was widespread fraud in the election, several investigations, legal challenges, and top Trump administration officials have all confirmed there was no fraud that would have affected the outcome.

“I don’t believe we’ll ever know precisely what happened,” Crockett said in response to a question on whether she doubts Minnesota’s results from 2020, when President Joe Biden took the state.

Cassondra Knudson, a spokesperson for Simon, said their office is always receptive to recommendations for enhancing election administration, but they would first want to carefully study any plan and confer with local election officials.

In an email, Knudson said, “We think local election officials are the experts and trust them to conduct their task conscientiously. “In the recent ballot misprints, every issue was swiftly found and addressed to guarantee a resolution that pleased both those on the ballot and voters.”

Minnesota’s election day was September 23. The issue in the counties of Roseau and Kittson in northwest Minnesota was that the same vendor failed to print candidates’ party affiliations on their ballots. Additionally, the vendor omitted the word “incumbent” next to any incumbent judges running for re-election in counties where there are no contested judgeships this year.

The two counties were given permission to reprint the ballots on Monday by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Residents who have already cast ballots there but wish to modify them will be informed that they may do so. Their votes will still be counted if not. Before the mistakes were discovered, 150 ballots were returned between the two counties, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Despite having a small population, Donald Trump received a significant majority of votes in the two counties in the 2020 election.

Similar steps were taken earlier this month to fix a clerical error in Ramsey County that resulted in absentee votes in a legislative district in St. Paul bearing the name of a deceased GOP candidate. The Supreme Court is currently debating whether to grant permission to correct yet another printing issue that occurred in Murray County in southwest Minnesota and involves the incorrect district numbers for legislative contests.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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