Minnesota’s Democrat Secretary of State Steve Simon wants to move his state’s elections to an entirely mail-in system amidst the COVID-19 epidemic.
This idea was discussed during a virtual meeting between Simon and the State House subcommittee on elections, Wednesday. Simon advocated that Minnesota should move to a fully remote system of voting for health reasons amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. His Republican adversaries countered with concerns about the feasibility of this plan. Minnesota’s previous issues with elections security may also play a role in how Minnesota handles its mid-pandemic voting.
“People shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Simon said, implying that voting in person with traditional ballots would put Minnesotans at risk. Republican Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Jim Nash didn’t buy this logic.
“I don’t think you’re going to find a lot of support from the GOP from this,” he said.
Rep. Mike Nelson also highlighted the logistical stress that a 100% mail-in election could place on the state’s postal system.
The Republican’s counter solution: more in person polling stations with reinforced safety measures. Nash said he wants to see the state “expand county voting places,” adding more stations to vote so that fewer voters can be further apart at each station. Republicans also advocated installing clear barriers between elections judges and voters.
Simon claimed this would be cost prohibitive, despite his admission that the federal government has already allocated $400,000,000 to helping states conduct elections amidst the pandemic.
Republicans also mentioned how Wisconsin recently held elections in the heat of the coronavirus epidemic. Rather than moving to a remote voting system, the state chose to employ the assistance National Guard to assist with the proceedings and enforce strict social distancing at the ballot boxes.
Looking To The Past
Minnesota is no stranger to elections-related controversy. In 2016 alone, over 26,000 felons, illegal aliens and non-Minnesota residents may have cast ballots in Minnesota thanks to a loophole held open by MN Secretary of State Steve Simon.
In 2008, Minnesota’s now-disgraced former Sen. Al Franken won by a margin of .01 percent — or 312 votes. A group called Minnesota Majority discovered that between 1,099 and 1,670 counted ballots were cast by felons ineligible to vote. Had Minnesota enjoyed a more robust system for identifying who received ballots, Franken may not have won, according to the Daily Caller.
Secretary Simon has also played an interesting role in the national conversation about voter fraud. He has openly promoted a conspiracy theory that Russia was behind the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.