With the CIA and the FBI agreeing that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump, many Minnesotans are concerned about protecting the integrity of the state’s election system. They shouldn’t be too worried, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said Tuesday, Aug. 29, during a visit to Detroit Lakes. “My biggest surprise about this job is the time, effort and energy that I and the rest of the staff spend on cyber security issues,” said Simon, who was elected in 2014. He campaigned on running the office with a Joan Growe-style of excellence, and expected to deal with straightforward issues: expanding access to voting, removing barriers to voting, making business services as streamlined as possible.
Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon stopped in Hubbard County last week as he toured the state talking about the need to replace aging election equipment. Simon was seeking $28 million from the Legislature to help counties pay for the project. In May, a bill was signed into law that created a $7 million grant fund to help replace the aging equipment by 2020. The fund provides up to a 50 percent match between the state and counties for mandatory equipment and up to a 75 percent match for electronic poll books. Grant applications are expected to be made available in September, with an expected submission deadline in mid-December, according to Secretary of State’s office.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says he’s not sure he’ll turn over the data requested by a White House panel for a study of voter fraud. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked all states this week to supply publicly-available voter roll information. The request includes voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, recent voting history and details about military status and felony convictions. Simon, a Democrat, is hesitant.
Minnesota: Secretary’s push to replace aging election equipment signed into law | Faribault Daily News
Secretary of State Steve Simon is praising a new law that will help replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment, calling it a “critical and necessary investment” to ensure voting equipment works properly and consistently in precincts all around the state. Replacing aging equipment has been a major priority of Secretary Simon’s since taking office and was signed into law May 30. The bill creates a $7 million grant fund to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment by 2018. It provides up to a 50 percent match between the state and counties for mandatory equipment and up to a 75 percent match for electronic poll books.
Last week Secretary of State Steve Simon undertook a tour of all 87 counties. He wanted to learn about the local government’s experiences during the 2016 election. His goal was to get the State to give some kind of grant or match to help with the cost of replacing aging voting machines. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which was a one time federal fund to help purchase equipment. Minnesota purchased most of its equipment between 2004-2007. According to the vendors, the machines are good for 10 years, and can be pushed to 15 years max. In 2017, the max is getting dangerously close. It costs roughly $10,000 per polling location to upgrade. Simon’s case for State funding is that upgrading the machines is a mandatory cost that can’t be deferred. The previous generation of machines was purchased with help from federal funding for all 50 states. 43 states are in need of upgrades.
Republicans are moving to erase Minnesota’s public campaign subsidies, which could reshape the fundraising fight in next year’s gubernatorial election and unleash more money into statewide and local elections. Passed in 1974 as part of an anti-corruption wave triggered by President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, Minnesota’s subsidy has become ingrained in state elections. With all 201 legislative seats up for grabs last year, nearly nine of every 10 candidates agreed to limit their total campaign spending. In return, they shared in $2.2 million in public funding. In 2014, when both Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson accepted subsidies, that public money accounted for more than 20 percent of the $4.5 million spent on the race.
Minnesota often leads the nation in voter turnout, but isn’t always on the cutting edge of voting technology. One company wants to change that by convincing lawmakers touch screen voting is the wave of the future. “The Express Vote (machine) is an assisted voting device that can also be used by other voters as well,” said Mike Hoversten of Election Systems and Software. He points out that one machine can be used by voters of all abilities. The Express Vote machine eventually produces a paper ballot, but it’s smaller than the size of the ballot required by state law that is commonly used now. A change in state law would be required for counties to consider using the machine. State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, a former Minnesota Secretary of State, said such a change is unlikely, at least for now. “Because you have a uniform paper ballot and that is equal treatment of all voters, that’s really important,” Kiffmeyer told 5 Eyewitness News.
Minnesota: Provisional balloting, a June primary and ‘I voted’ stickers: How legislators are looking to change Minnesota elections | MinnPost
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. The rule has also influenced the measures moving through the Legislature this year, with the Republicans who control both chambers ditching proposals that have been controversial in the past — like voter ID — and advancing a list of changes to the state’s election system that have broad support. Well, mostly. As Secretary of State Steve Simon says: “I would say there is work that has yet to be done to get the bipartisan support necessary for the governor’s signature.”
Minnesota: Ranked-choice opponents push St. Paul to vote on voting, again | Minnesota Public Radio News
Though St. Paul residents approved ranked-choice voting in a 2009 referendum, it may be heading for a vote in St. Paul again. Opponents of ranked-choice voting, also called instant-runoff voting, say it has unnecessarily delayed results and hasn’t delivered on supporters’ promises. They’re going to make their case to put it back before voters as soon as November. “It promises a lot of things and it doesn’t deliver on any of them,” says Chuck Repke, a neighborhood activist, one-time city council staffer and political activist.
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. “The best answer to that is eBay,” Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson of Crow Wing County told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, March 1, before the panel approved a bill providing counties $14 million next year.