Minnesota: In Rice County, which backed Trump, officials have spent years battling groups over voting machines | Briana Bierschbach/Star Tribune

In Rice County, Minnesota, tensions run high as local officials grapple with distrust surrounding election procedures, intensified by conservative groups’ efforts to challenge the use of electronic voting machines. Recent public voting equipment tests have drawn large crowds, with attendees voicing concerns and pressing for answers on issues like ballot record printing and modem usage. A lawsuit filed against Denise Anderson, head of the county’s Property Tax and Elections Office, has further escalated tensions, highlighting broader anxieties over election integrity. Despite assertions of thorough testing and certification from the Office of the Secretary of State, the controversy persists, raising concerns about the retention of election staff and the future of electoral processes in the county. Read Article

Minnesota: “It’s a great front row seat to democracy”: What to know about election machine testing | Sam Woodward/USA Today

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and local elections officials conducted a public accuracy test at the Scott County Government Center ahead of the presidential primary, emphasizing transparency and integrity in the election process. These tests, required before every election, aim to ensure that voting equipment accurately records ballots. Simon highlighted the importance of these tests amid past claims of election fraud, underscoring Minnesota’s commitment to secure and accessible elections. The testing process involves examining Dominion Voting machines and assessing alternative voting methods, such as handheld devices for visually or audibly impaired voters. Read Article

Minnesota election officials express confidence about security on eve of Super Tuesday early voting | Steve Karnowski/Associated Press

Minnesota’s Super Tuesday presidential primary begins early voting, and Secretary of State Steve Simon has highlighted the state’s preparedness for challenges such as disinformation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and threats to poll workers. Simon outlined multiple security measures, including new election security laws, layers of security for remote voting, public testing of voting machine accuracy, and a corps of volunteer election judges. Emphasizing the need to combat disinformation, Simon urged voters to seek reliable information from state and local election offices. He identified disinformation as a significant challenge in the 2024 election year. Read Article

Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office tests ES&S ExpressVote ballot marking devices with new ‘skinny’ ballots | Rochelle Olsen/Star Tribune

Minnesota’s voting process underwent scrutiny as election officials from Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office tested new voting machines in an open-door session. The machines, provided by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), are designed to allow voters to mark ballots using a touch screen and generate smaller ballots that are more accessible for people with disabilities. The certification process is public and subject to open meetings laws, aiming to inspire confidence in the election system. The results will be presented to Secretary Simon for approval, and if passed, cities and counties can purchase these machines for upcoming elections. Read Article

Minnesota just boosted protections for tens of thousands of election workers | Briana Bierschbach/Star Tribune

Minnesota has implemented a new law aimed at protecting election workers from intimidation, harassment, and threats. The law comes as a response to the increase in such incidents since the 2020 election, fueled by false claims of widespread voter fraud. Violators of the law could face civil penalties and fines of up to $1,000 per offense. Other states have also passed or are considering similar protections to ensure the safety of election administrators and poll workers. The law is part of a broader election agenda passed by Democrats in Minnesota, which includes measures like automatic voter registration and penalties for spreading false information intended to deter voting. Read Article

Minnesota’s 2022 Post-Election Review Final Report | Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

Minnesota’s post-election review (PER) involves manually counting randomly selected paper ballots and comparing the results to the machine totals from Election Day. This process serves as a crucial check on the accuracy of voting machines, provides valuable information to enhance election procedures, and allows the public to witness the verification of elections. Minnesota has been conducting PERs since 2006 during general elections for congressional and statewide races. Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN) has organized eight non-partisan observations of Minnesota’s PERs, including a partnership with the League of Women Voters in 2022, where 40 volunteers observed the review in 11 counties. The observers’ questionnaire indicated that the review was carried out transparently, efficiently, and professionally, instilling confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the PER. Read the Report (PDF)

Minnesota Governor signs “Democracy for the People Act” allowing automatic voter registration, pre-registration for teens | Caroline Cummings/CBS Minnesota

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has signed the “Democracy for the People Act” into law, a comprehensive bill aimed at expanding access to the polls. The legislation includes provisions for automatic voter registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and a permanent absentee voter list that will send ballots automatically to those who sign up. The law also requires voting materials to be available in languages other than English and prohibits voter intimidation. Minnesota now joins 22 other states and Washington, D.C., with automatic voter registration. The bill passed along party lines, with Republicans criticizing the lack of bipartisan support. Read Article

Minnesota election bill would make it illegal to knowingly spread false information that impedes voting | Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Despite a dozen hearings in the Minnesota House and Senate, lawmakers have scarcely mentioned a key provision of a major elections bill that would make it a crime to spread election misinformation to try to stop people from voting. The Democracy for the People Act, (HF3), includes a provision that would make it a gross misdemeanor — punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine — to knowingly spread materially false information with the intent to impede or prevent people from voting. It would apply before 60 days an election. It would be illegal to spread false information about the “time, place or manner of holding an election,” qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility, and threats to physical safety associated with voting.

Full Article: Election bill would make it illegal to knowingly spread false information that impedes voting – Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota Secretary of State recounts harassment of election workers; promotes protections in bill | Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said election officials were harassed, intimidated and threatened in Minnesota during the 2022 election, and the state needs a law protecting election workers. Simon supports a bill dubbed the Election Worker Protection Act (HF635) that would ban intimidation of election officials, interference with their work and tampering with election equipment. The bill also makes it a misdemeanor to tamper with or gain unauthorized entry into election equipment, the state voter registration system, ballot boxes or drop boxes; tamper with voter registration lists and polling place rosters; divulge personal information about election officials; or block access to polling places. Minnesota has had a “noticeable uptick” in abusive behavior toward election administrators, Simon said during a Tuesday hearing before a House elections committee. In order to keep recruiting some 30,000 people to serve as election judges every election, they need to be assured “it’s a safe and secure environment,” Simon said.

Full Article: Secretary of state recounts harassment of election workers; promotes protections in bill   – Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota elections chief seeks to make voting even easier | Steve Karnowski/Associated Press

Minnesota’s chief elections officer called on state lawmakers Monday to make it easier for residents to vote while protecting elections officials from threats and intimidation. Key elements of Secretary of State Steve Simon’s agenda are included in an elections package that fellow Democrats in the state House and Senate introduced last week. Others will be covered in separate legislation. As legislatures convene across the country, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are bracing for new fights on election-related legislation amid the continued false claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 election was stolen. Republicans are eager to tighten election rules further, whereas Democrats are seeking to make it easier to vote. Simon — who won more votes than any other candidate on Minnesota’s statewide ballot as he fought off a GOP challenger who claimed the 2020 election was rigged — said Minnesota consistently has one of the highest turnouts in the country by promoting voter access while balancing it with security measures that keep fraud at “microscopic” levels. “Minnesotans agree: Democracy was on the ballot in 2022,” Simon said at a news conference. “The voters of Minnesota had a chance to make their voices heard on elections and voting issues. They spoke loudly and clearly.”

Full Article: Minnesota elections chief seeks to make voting even easier | AP News

Minnesota lawsuit against county expands to challenge modems transmitting vote results | Kristine Goddrich/Faribault Daily News

A lawsuit over election records data requests in Rice County has expanded into a challenge of the use of modems in voting equipment. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has gotten involved and is joining the county in asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Carol Hanks indicated during a hearing this week she is unlikely to issue any ruling before Election Day. The lawsuit was filed in August in Rice County District Court against Denise Anderson, Rice County’s elections director. It was filed by Kathleen Hagen, who is a Lonsdale resident and a former election judge, and Matt Benda, an attorney from Albert Lea who was a Republican candidate for Congress. The lawsuit initially sought to force the county to release more documents about its elections equipment. The plaintiffs later expanded the scope of the lawsuit, asking Hanks to issue an order prohibiting the county from using modems to transmit election results to the Secretary of State. The modems are a threat to election integrity, Benda argues.

Full Article: Lawsuit against county expands to challenge modems transmitting vote results | News | southernminn.com

Minnesota election administration explained: post-election checks | Max Hailperin/Minnesota Reformer

Election officials do their best to get results out on election night or the next morning, but always with a note that they are unofficial. Perhaps preliminary would be a better word than unofficial. These results do come from an official source, unlike news reports of estimates derived from exit polling. But they haven’t been through all the checks and revisions that occur following the election. Those post-election activities are essential to producing final, official, certified results that merit confidence. Nothing done quickly can have the same level of assurance. Turning the unofficial results of election night into the official results that allow a winner to receive their election certificate is called canvassing. In Minnesota, the canvass process includes administrative checks, formal board action, and a manual audit of randomly selected precincts. Election administrators in each jurisdiction produce a “canvass report” that tabulates the votes cast, as well as the number of voters, and Election Day and advance registrants. This largely repeats the information from election night. However, it reflects several kinds of cross-checking and the revision of any errors found through that checking. Most basically, the administrators check that the vote counts were correctly uploaded to the Election Reporting System. They do this by closing the loop back to the definitive source of information: the printouts from the tabulators.

Full Article: Minnesota election administration explained: post-election checks – Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota: Olmsted County administrator: Data misinterpretation led to group’s 2020 election concerns | Randy Petersen/Rochester Post Bulletin

A group alleging the Olmsted County votes counted in 2020 outnumbered the county’s eligible voters appears to have added the wrong numbers. County Administrator Heidi Welsch said a report from the Olmsted County Elections Integrity Group appears to have added the number of registered voters prior to Election Day – 100,815 – and the number who registered on Election Day – 5,786 – with the assumption that they all voted. “There are two problems with this calculation,” she wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to the group’s chairman, Roger Mueller. “First, these numbers are registered voters, not actual votes cast. In other words, not everyone who is registered actually votes.” The actual number of ballots reported being cast in Olmsted County was 91,864, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. When the group compared what it represented as 106,601 ballots cast to a reported 104,234 registered voters on Dec. 20, 2020, it raised concerns, according to a report distributed to county commissioners by county resident Dave Sprenger.

Full Article: Olmsted County administrator: Data misinterpretation led to group’s 2020 election concerns – Post Bulletin | Rochester Minnesota news, weather, sports

Minnesota GOP activists lobby county officials to do hand counts of paper ballots | Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Right-wing activists are pressuring county officials in Minnesota to change election procedures, hand counting paper ballots, which election administrators say would be an unwieldy nightmare. In recent weeks, the GOP activists have lobbied for changes in Carver and Sherburne counties. Minnesota Republicans, who haven’t won a statewide race since 2006, have also been pushing hard to recruit like-minded election judges in the hopes that more Republican eyes on the polls will foil perceived fraud and flip elections their way. Election judges — who are poll workers — greet voters, accept ballots and help voters at the polls. It’s all part of a nationwide Republican push to get more GOP watchers involved in elections, fueled by false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. A legally required post-election audit in Minnesota found few irregularities in 2020 — nowhere near enough to change the results. The activists accuse county boards of using antiquated voting systems. Instead of city and county workers, they want more partisan election judges on ballot boards, which decide whether or to accept or reject absentee ballots. They’re also urging counties to stop using absentee ballot drop boxes. The League of Women Voters of Minnesota has been showing up at county board meetings, too, urging commissioners not to buy into misinformation.

Full Article: GOP activists lobby Carver, Sherburne county officials to do hand counts of paper ballots – Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota: Election security money going to counties ahead of 2022 vote | Stephen Montemayor/StarTribune

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office is starting to distribute nearly $3 million in election cybersecurity money as counties prepare for another busy election season. This latest round of federal Help America Vote Act security dollars is another chapter in efforts to bolster cyber defenses statewide since Russian hackers tried to breach Minnesota’s voting system in 2016. “We want to make sure counties are thinking about their overall cyber security – and specifically election security posture – not just in an election year but all the time,” said Bill Ekblad, the office’s election security cyber navigator.

Full Article: Election security money going to Minnesota counties ahead of 2022 vote – StarTribune.com

Minnesota Secretary of State rejects Crow Wing County request for 2020 election audit | Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota’s secretary of state has flatly denied a request by the Crow Wing County Board for an audit of the 2020 election in that county, where activists have been dogging officials for months to look into unspecified claims of fraud. Convinced there was fraud to be found — and egged on by people like former President Donald Trump, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and a cadre of right-wingers — a group of activists lobbied the central Minnesota county board for months to do more examinations of the election in the county, which Trump won by 30 points. After the county attorney said the board had no legal authority to audit the election, four of the five county board members passed a resolution on Jan. 4 asking the secretary of state’s office to “undertake a full forensic audit of all election material and data” of the 2020 election. The resolution said the board “continues to have faith in the 2020 election results as valid and reliable but it is equally troubling that there are citizens who still have a sincerely held belief that it was not.” Secretary of State Steve Simon responded to the county in a letter Monday, saying that while he appreciates the “delicate balancing act” the county has undergone in trying to address constituents’ concerns, his office will not do another review of the election. “Our office will not engage in a vague and impossibly broad search for unspecified misconduct based on anyone’s gut feeling, hunch, or belief — no matter how sincerely held,” Simon said. “The 2020 general election, which took place almost 15 months ago, was fundamentally fair, accurate, honest, and secure across Minnesota.”

Full Article: Secretary of State rejects Crow Wing County request for 2020 election audit – Minnesota Reformer

Minnesota Democrats unveil bill to expand voter access | Mohamed Ibrahim/Associated Press

Minnesota Democrats are aiming to expand election protections and access to the ballot box after an election that featured disinformation and doubt about the results. The bill, with voting rights lawyer and freshman Democrat Rep. Emma Greenman of Minneapolis as chief author, has a host of measures aimed at increasing voter access. The bill includes restoring the right to vote to convicted felons after being released from prison, mailing absentee ballots to voters and boosting the number of ballot drop boxes statewide, among other measures. The legislation would protect election officials from harassment and intimidation, and increase transparency in campaign spending by requiring outside groups to disclose donors. It would also permanently remove the requirement that mail-in ballots be signed by a witness — a measure approved by a judge as part of an agreement last year by Secretary of State Steve Simon to resolve a lawsuit brought by citizens concerned about voting during the pandemic. The legislation has no Republican co-authors; A GOP majority in the Senate lists election integrity — not access — as a priority this legislative session. Those efforts include a bill that would require voters to provide photo identification to register to vote and cast a ballot while reinstating the witness requirement. The bill would establish a free voter identification card for those who lack government-issued photo ID.

Full Article: Minnesota Democrats unveil bill to expand voter access – StarTribune.com

Minnesota: Ramsey County judge tosses latest challenge to election results | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

A Ramsey County judge on Friday dismissed a late effort to challenge Minnesota’s election results, dealing the latest in a long line of legal blows to Republican bids across the country to overturn the 2020 vote. Chief District Judge Leonardo Castro sided with attorneys for Secretary of State Steve Simon and four Minnesota Democratic U.S. House members who argued that the challenges were not properly filed and lacked merit. Attorney Susan Shogren Smith, in a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of multiple Minnesota voters, claimed “countless irregularities” in last month’s election but offered no evidence of widespread fraud on a level that would invalidate the results. She also raised questions about voting technology used in six Minnesota counties by Dominion Voting Systems, the target of unfounded claims by President Donald Trump and supporters that the company was part of a vast conspiracy to change votes. Simon has said that Dominion had cleared state and federal certification. Trump, meanwhile, won five of the six counties that used the technology.

Full Article: Ramsey County judge tosses latest challenge to Minnesota election results – StarTribune.com

Minnesota: Tensions over election outcome on display as Senate panel meets | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

Disinformation and conspiracy theories about this year’s vote are a danger to election workers and democracy itself, Minnesota Secretary of State Simon warned Tuesday at a state Senate hearing called to examine the election’s integrity. With the presidential race’s outcome under continued but unsuccessful legal attack by President Donald Trump and allies, Republican state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake raised questions about pandemic-driven changes to Minnesota’s voting procedures that have since been the subject of court wrangling. Still, Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state and frequent critic of Simon, said in a subsequent press release that “so far, claims of widespread fraud have not held up under scrutiny or in the courts.” Simon, a Democrat, used the occasion of the Senate hearing to mount another defense of Minnesota’s election, calling it “a great big success on multiple levels.” The Senate hearing on the outcome of the vote, he said, was “taking place in the middle of a national tidal wave of disinformation, politically inspired lies designed to mislead and manipulate people.” Kiffmeyer, who chairs the Senate’s committee on elections, convened Tuesday’s hearing to probe questions over voting software and tabulation, in addition to the changes to rules governing absentee balloting before the primary and general elections. Kiffmeyer defended posing “reasonable questions” about the state’s election process. She had previously cited “anecdotal reports of irregular election activities” in her initial request to Simon for a report on this year’s elections.

Full Article: Tensions over Minn. election on full display in Senate hearing – StarTribune.com

Minnesota State Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to election results | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a Republican lawsuit to stop certification of Minnesota’s Nov. 3 election results and order a full recount, the latest in a long line of failed legal attempts around the country to challenge the outcome of the 2020 vote. In a five-page order rejecting the case, Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea cited the late filing of the petition — just hours before the state canvassing board met to certify the election’s results on Nov. 24 — and errors in the manner in which the case was brought. Unsuccessful GOP congressional candidate Tyler Kistner, numerous other Minnesota Republicans who lost their elections and members of a breakaway GOP state House caucus were behind the petition. Their challenge took aim at a consent decree agreed to earlier this year by Secretary of State Steve Simon that suspended witness requirements for absentee and mail ballots. The Republican petitioners also challenged the process used in some counties for conducting their postelection reviews. The petitioners argued that they were not unreasonable to wait until hours before the canvassing board meeting because they filed their challenge just days after the final postelection review in Minnesota. But Gildea pointed out that two of their key arguments, including the witness requirement suspension, centered on events that took place months before early voting began on Sept. 18. The witness requirement suspension also survived a state appellate court challenge.

Full Article: State Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to Minn. election results – StarTribune.com

Minnesota panel signs off on election results, says voting system clean | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota’s top election officials signed off on the results of this year’s vote on Tuesday, giving the state’s process a clean bill of health even as a group of Republicans filed a last-minute legal challenge. “Our voting equipment is incredibly accurate and the postelection review in front of you proves that,” David Maeda, the state’s director of elections, told members of the five-person state canvassing board led by Secretary of State Steve Simon, which met to make official the outcome of the Nov. 3 vote. Despite unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic, Maeda reported that a random audit of precincts in all 87 counties failed to show a level of irregularities that would have, by law, triggered a full-county recount anywhere.That’ s never happened since the state began that form of postelection testing in 2006, Maeda added. The certification makes official President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump by a wide margin in Minnesota, as well as all results down ballot. Trump’s campaign has waged a broadly unsuccessful campaign to challenge the validity of election results in several key swing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania — where state officials have also since signed off on their respective election outcomes.

Full Article: Minnesota panel signs off on election results, says voting system clean – StarTribune.com

Minnesota GOP claims election ‘abnormalities’ without evidence | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

Election officials on Friday swiftly rejected claims by Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan that “extreme data abnormalities” might have influenced the state’s Nov. 3 election after her examples proved to be nothing more than instances of high voter turnout. “The bottom line is you can’t just throw out conjecture and guesswork without real evidence,” said Risikat Adesaogun, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. It was “hard to respond to allegations that are so vague and unformed.” Nonpartisan election officials in Anoka and Wright counties, two main counties cited by Carnahan, said they found nothing that would call into question the integrity or validity of the vote. A Star Tribune analysis of Minnesota election data since 2000, for both presidential and gubernatorial elections, found nothing irregular about this year’s voting trends. Carnahan’s attempt to sow doubt over the outcome of the 2020 election follows a coordinated and frantic final push by President Donald Trump and his allies to nullify its outcome through more than two dozen court challenges in battleground states, with 29 losses or dismissals so far. “We’re just trying to shed light on some of the abnormalities we’ve seen,” Carnahan said Friday night. “And where it goes from there remains to be seen at this point.” Carnahan is comparing only votes for Democrats in certain counties in 2012, 2016 and 2020, omitting turnout data from 2018 when Democrats also swept statewide races on the midterm ballot. Her analysis does not account for overall turnout shifts or whether similar patterns emerged in other parts of the state. In a separate Facebook post, Carnahan said she had been in touch with an attorney for Trump’s campaign before releasing her statement late Thursday.

Full Article: Minnesota GOP claims election ‘abnormalities’ without evidence – StarTribune.com

Minnesota: Federal appeals court nixes extended ballot counting | Jan Wolfe/Reuters

A federal appeals court on Thursday said Minnesota’s plan to count absentee ballots received after Election Day was illegal, siding with Republicans in the battleground state. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said the deadline extension was an unconstitutional maneuver by the state’s top election official, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat. The appeals court said Minnesota election officials should identify and set aside all absentee ballots received after Nov. 3. “Simply put, the Secretary has no power to override the Minnesota Legislature,” the court’s majority wrote.

Full Article: U.S. appeals court nixes Minnesota’s extended ballot counting | Reuters

Minnesota: At behest of Trump campaign official, Minneapolis police union calls for retired officers to act as ‘eyes and ears’ on Election Day | Libor Jany/Minneapolid Star Tribune

The Minneapolis police union put out a call this week for retired officers to help serve as “eyes and ears” at polling sites in “problem” areas across the city on Election Day, at the request of an attorney for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. The request was made by William Willingham, whose e-mail signature identifies him as a senior legal adviser and director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign. In an e-mail Wednesday morning to Minneapolis Police Federation President Lt. Bob Kroll, Willingham asked the union president about recruiting 20 to 30 former officers to serve as “poll challengers” to work either a four- or eight-hour shift in a “problem area.” “Poll Challengers do not ‘stop’ people, per se, but act as our eyes and ears in the field and call our hotline to document fraud,” the e-mail read. “We don’t necessarily want our Poll Challengers to look intimidating, they cannot carry a weapon in the polls due to state law. … We just want people who won’t be afraid in rough neighborhoods or intimidating situations.” Kroll then passed on the request to federation members, saying “Please share, and e-mail me if you are willing to assist,” according to a copy obtained by the Star Tribune.

Full Article: Trump official seeking retired cops as Minneapolis ‘poll challengers’ – StarTribune.com

Minnesota Supreme Court rejects delay of congressional vote | Associated Press

A Minnesota Republican candidate’s bid to delay voting in his congressional race to February after the death of a third-party candidate was rejected Tuesday at the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who handles emergency requests from the federal appeals court that oversees Minnesota, denied the request from Tyler Kistner. As is typical when the court acts on an emergency basis, Gorsuch did not say anything in denying the request. But he also didn’t ask Kistner’s opponent to respond in writing or refer the question to the full court, suggesting it wasn’t a close question. Kistner is running against Democrat Angie Craig, the incumbent, in the Nov. 3 race for Minnesota’s competitive 2nd District, which stretches south from St. Paul’s suburbs. “It’s unfortunate that Angie Craig is continuing to silence and disenfranchise thousands of her own constituents,” Kistner said in a statement. Craig said Kistner’s case has been before three different courts, and each court rejected it.

Full Article: Supreme Court rejects delay of Minnesota congressional vote

Minnesota Attorney General Ellison wins assurance Atlas Aegis will not recruit or provide private security for elections | Red Lake Nation News

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has won a written assurance from Tennessee-based security company Atlas Aegis that it is not recruiting and will not recruit or provide private security at or near polling places in Minnesota in conjunction with the November 3 election. The company admits that its statements that it was doing so are incorrect. Attorney General Ellison announced on October 20 that his office had launched an investigation into Atlas Aegis.As part of the settlement, Atlas Aegis agrees not to provide any security services in Minnesota around the November 3 election; not to intimidate any voters in Minnesota; and to communicate through its channels that it was wrong to suggest it was recruiting security for “protection of election polls” in Minnesota. “Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have. One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I’m holding Atlas Aegis to account for their misstatements about recruiting security for polling places in Minnesota that potentially frightened Minnesota voters. They won’t be doing it again and will not be anywhere in Minnesota before, during, or after Election Day.”

Minnesota: Calls for armed guards, ‘Army for Trump’ cause alarm | Stephen Montemayor/ Minneapolis StarTribune

Calls for armed military veterans combined with a volunteer “Army for Trump” to descend on Minnesota polling places have created fresh anxieties for state law enforcement and elections officials already preparing for a major election in the COVID-19 pandemic. Cybersecurity and the corona­virus pandemic dominated preparations for the vote this year, but state and federal officials are now closely monitoring new reports of private security contractors advertising jobs that would — illegally — dispatch armed guards at Minnesota polling places. Adding to those concerns, the Trump campaign has vowed to raise a 50,000-plus army of volunteer observers across an array of battleground states to monitor the voting. Raising fears of elections he says will be rigged, President Donald Trump, trailing in polls in Minnesota and other key battleground states, has called on his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen.”Minnesota GOP officials say roughly 3,000 people have signed up so far and will get training on state election laws, which forbid campaign workers to interact directly with voters. “The actual running of the election is coming along OK but that doesn’t mean that some of the reporting and messaging and things that have come out have not been alarming,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison, adding that he believes the prospect of armed guards at the polls could be a voter suppression tactic.

Minnesota: Secretary of State Simon waives witness rule for primary absentee ballots | Tim Pugmire/MPR

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is waiving the state’s absentee voting witness requirement for the August 11 primary election. Simon, a Democrat, made the call after a district court judge signed off last week on a proposed settlement for a lawsuit challenging the rule. However, a federal judge hearing a similar but separate lawsuit this week did not accept the agreement. Early voting for the primary begins Friday. Simon said he will follow the state court. “The ruling yesterday does not affect last week’s primary state court ruling that this arrangement and this settlement agreement is fair, it’s adequate, it’s reasonable, it’s in the public interest,” Simon said. “We’re bound by that ruling. We can’t choose not to abide by the ruling.”

Minnesota: Secretary of State says state will waive mail-in ballot witness requirement | Jessie Van Berke/Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office said Tuesday that the state will waive the witness requirement for absentee ballots in the August primaries despite a federal judge’s misgivings about a consent decree easing the rules for mail-in voting. Simon’s office said he will follow a state court decision from a week ago that approved an agreement removing the witness requirement, a move that was sought in a lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund. Early voting in the August primary begins Friday. But in a separate case brought by the League of Women Voters of Minnesota, a federal judge said Tuesday that a similar agreement went “well beyond” the concerns raised by a voter who said her health could be jeopardized by having to meet the witness requirement to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud called for a more narrowly tailored agreement to remedy specific harms cited by the league’s lawsuit. Despite Tostrud’s opinion, Simon, a leading DFL proponent of mail-in voting, said his office will continue to waive the witness requirement in accordance with a decision signed last week by Ramsey County District Judge Sara Grewing.

Minnesota: Minnesota waives absentee ballot witness signature mandate | Steve Karnowski/Associated Press

Minnesota will waive its witness requirements for absentee ballots for the statewide primary election in August under the settlement of two lawsuits sparked by the health threat from the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuits were filed by political arms of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota and the Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans. A Ramsey County judge signed off on the consent decree with the retirees Wednesday while a federal judge scheduled a hearing for Thursday on the league’s case. Republican lawmakers complained that Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon overstepped his authority by settling. “The lawsuits and agreements are a flagrant abuse of the courts and complete runaround of the Legislature,” they said in a statement. Under the settlements, Simon agreed that mailed-in absentee ballots for the primary will be accepted even if they don’t have witness signatures, and that ballots received within two days of the Aug. 11 primary date will be accepted as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day. Minnesota usually requires that the witness be a registered voter or notary public.