Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said elected leaders who question the integrity of the election are “coating themselves in a shame that will never, ever wash off” during a Tuesday Senate hearing.
The Senate State Government and Elections Committee, chaired by Republican Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, called a hearing to review the administration and security of the 2020 election.
Secretary Simon, a Democrat, agreed to testify, but immediately dismissed the subject of voter fraud and left the virtual hearing after 40 minutes to get to another appointment.
“The 2020 election in Minnesota was a great, big success on multiple levels,” Simon began his testimony. “As of today, and all I can tell you about is what is as of today, there have been no credible or official reports to our office of fraud or voter misconduct.”
Simon said Tuesday’s hearing was “not taking place in a vacuum,” but in “the middle of a national tidal wave of disinformation.”
“So I will not, at this hearing, amplify or dignify conspiracy theories. We’ve seen a lot of them this past month, at the federal and at the state level. They’re not just wrong, they’re dangerous, and they have to stop. They’re dangerous in the short term because I think someone might get killed. I think someone in this country, maybe in this state, is going to get killed,” said Simon.
He referenced a Saturday incident in which armed demonstrators protested outside the home of Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
“We have amped up people out there who believe wild and unsubstantiated theories about our democracy that risk inspiring violence and even murder,” he continued, claiming members of his family have been the “targets of harassment by people who seem truly to actually believe this stuff.”
Simon concluded his testimony with this statement: “Any member, regardless of party, or any testifier, regardless of viewpoint, who indulges that kind of recklessness, who tolerates it, who encourages it, or even hints at it is, I must say, coating themselves in a shame that will never, ever wash off. Ever.”
Kiffmeyer responded to Simon’s comments after the hearing, saying she has “heard from many, many constituents regarding concerns over the security of our elections.”
“Many of those stories were troubling. To be clear: so far, claims of widespread fraud have not held up under scrutiny or in the courts. That’s a good thing — the reliability and integrity of our elections are crucial to the health of our republic. But there have been issues, and the only way to fix them is by asking questions,” said Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state.
“I reject the idea that asking reasonable questions is in itself a sinister act. It is my priority and responsibility as a legislator to look into every detail of our election process so all Minnesotans can know how this election was conducted, and so we can make security and accountability improvements wherever we can,” she added.
One of the testifiers at the hearing, Susan Shogren Smith, also took issue with Simon’s comments, calling them “highly inappropriate and intimidating.”
“We cannot get through this process and build the unity that we’re supposed to be seeking when we begin the process by suggesting that anyone who questions what happened on election night is somehow possibly a liar or trying to invoke harm on the other party,” said Smith, a Republican attorney.
Smith has filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding the post-election review process in Minnesota. A post-election review (PER) involves a hand count of the ballots in each eligible election in select precincts, which are then compared with the results from the voting systems used in each precinct.
Her lawsuit asks for the post-election review to be “redone following the rules and the guidelines that are appropriate.”
“We had many volunteers that went out to these PERs all over the state of Minnesota, and we received reports from across the state of Minnesota that there were problems at the PERs,” she said.