Republican Kim Crockett said Monday she would seek to shorten Minnesota’s early voting period, require voters to show photo ID and review the use of mail-in ballots if elected secretary. of State in November.
For his part, Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon said Minnesota should keep its election laws intact — noting that the state often ranks first nationally in turnout — and consider automatically registering eligible people. to vote when they get their driver’s license.
The two candidates vying to oversee Minnesota’s electoral system touted starkly different approaches to office in separate question-and-answer sessions Monday at the Star Tribune’s State Fair booth.
Crockett’s push to impose tougher election laws stems from his belief that the 2020 election was “rigged” in Minnesota, a lie that has no evidence to back it up. His accusation follows the same line used by former President Donald Trump regarding the national presidential election, even though this claim by Trump has been repeatedly refuted.
“Even though everything is up, people are watching [election results] and saying, “I don’t believe it anymore,” said Crockett, an attorney. “It is tearing families apart and it is tearing our country apart. This needs to stop, and the only way to do that is to look at our election laws and say, ‘Where are we losing faith?'”
Simon, who is seeking his third four-year term, said politicians who repeated lies about the 2020 election or misrepresented the electoral system are partly to blame for growing public mistrust.
“I think the number one challenge to our democracy nationally, and I would say in Minnesota as well, is this wave of misinformation that has unfortunately swept through too many places in our country and in our state,” Simon said. .
Simon drew the ire of Republicans for his outspokenness on election security and his connection to a court-approved consent decree that relaxed some mail-in voting requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Fifty-eight percent of Minnesotans voted absentee in 2020 as the virus spread before vaccines were widely available.
Crockett accuses the vote changes Simon authorized during the pandemic of being inappropriate and favoring Democrats, even though the measures affected the entire electorate and not one party or the other.
She said the shift from in-person to mail-in voting reflects a culture that “emphasizes convenience and participation rather than ensuring that every legal ballot…is counted.”
Crockett said shortening Minnesota’s 46-day early voting period and requiring all voters to show photo ID could increase confidence in the system. She also wants Republican and Democratic election judges to screen every mail-in ballot. Cities and counties in Minnesota can choose who counts mail-in ballots, with some relying on election judges and others relying on their employees.
“Our whole nation is in turmoil right now about the election and I think we need to calm things down to be responsible,” Crockett said.
Simon stressed that absentee voting is secure, noting that Minnesotans must provide their signature and personal information such as their Social Security or driver’s license number when ordering a ballot.
Theoretically, Simon said, a mailbox thief would not only have to know the exact personal information provided by the voter, but also accurately forge their signature and obtain the separate witness signature required to vote by mail.
“Unless those three things are true, you’re not going to have someone successfully slipping a ballot into a mailbox and then voting it out,” Simon said.
Two weeks ago, Simon said, there had been 16 proven cases of voter misconduct among 3.3 million eligible voters in Minnesota since the 2020 election — and some of them failed.
The secretary of state disagreed with requiring all voters to show photo ID, saying he understands the ‘shallow appeal’ of the idea, but thinks it would make it more difficult for residents of seniors’ residences to vote who do not have ID with up-to-date addresses.
If re-elected, Simon said, he would advocate for automatic voter registration and to restore voting rights to felons who have served their prison terms and been released. Both proposals would require legislative action.
Currently, Minnesotans check a box on their driver’s license documents if they want to be registered to vote at the same time. Simon’s auto-registration proposal would change that box to say “tick here if you don’t want to be registered,” he said, moving the system from an opt-in to an opt-out.
Also on Monday, Crockett defended comments she made in a September radio interview in which she compared proposed changes to election law to “our 9/11.” Crockett’s comments, which surfaced on CNN last weekwere quickly criticized.
Crockett said she meant the proposed changes should be a “wake-up call” for Republicans. Since the story was published, Crockett said she had been threatened and had to hire a security guard, noting that the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the matter.