Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie won’t be seeking re-election next year, but that hasn’t slowed the Republican criticism that has dogged him through two terms. Republican lawmakers have been pounding Ritchie for developing an online voter registration system, without first obtaining legislative approval. Among them is state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, who is considering another run for the secretary of state job she once held. Kiffmeyer lost her bid for a third term as secretary of state to Ritchie in 2006. “Doing anything online has a risk with it, and especially something like this, and I just want to be sure,” Kiffmeyer said. “My concerns are it hasn’t gone through the legislative process. It has not been vetted by our state IT department, nor the expertise that we have. It’s been done on a unilateral basis.” She and other Republicans want the Senate Subcommittee on Elections to hold a hearing to address their concerns.
The panel’s chair, state Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, said she will hold a hearing, but not until the 2014 session begins in February.
Sieben said passing enabling legislation would help preserve the new online system. But she made it clear that she doesn’t share the GOP concerns about Ritchie.
“I think Secretary Ritchie is an ethical, consistently thoughtful secretary of state who’s looking to protect the integrity of Minnesota elections, and I don’t have any concerns about his role as secretary of state,” Sieben said. “I think he’s doing a great job.”