Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met with Meeker County Auditor Barb Loch on Monday to discuss election-related issues, including concerns about aging election equipment. Simon, who made six stops in the region Monday, said a common concern among local officials is finding money to replace a fleet of election equipment purchased about 10 to 12 years ago with federal funds. Those federal dollars are no longer available, Simon said during an interview after his meeting with Loch. “Now the question is … what can we do to alleviate costs for counties,” he said, adding that he is hoping the state can help pay for new machines, which run as much as $7,000 each.
Loch said Meeker County has 47 machines, which either count ballots or assist people with physical disabilities cast a ballot, that are approaching the end of their useful life.
Another topic broached during Monday’s meeting with Loch is early voting, which Simon said could reduce voting costs. Practiced in as many as 20 states, Simon said, early voting allows people to cast ballots before Election Day.
Early voting is less complicated than absentee voting, Simon noted. Unlike absentee voting, early voting doesn’t require paperwork beyond filling out the ballot itself.