In a democratic country where the people are supposed to have a voice in government, the vote should be sacred. It is a right that we should protect and encourage. We need to ensure only citizens are voting, but there should be no other hurdles to the voting booth.
That’s why voting for the secretary of state is pretty important. They safeguard our elections and are the frontlines of democracy.
The State of Voting
I’m not a fan of anything that makes it harder to vote. There have been efforts around the country, from requiring IDs to closing polling stations, to make it harder to vote. I shouldn’t have to remind people that these are similar to Jim Crow-era efforts to stifle the black vote through poll taxes, tests, intimidation, and all-out cheating.
Let’s be clear: Voter fraud is not a widespread problem. When Trump talked about millions of illegal votes, he was making it up. Study after study has shown this to be true.
It’s voter suppression, plain and simple. And anytime a political party wants to see fewer people vote, you should be worried.
Instead of making it harder to vote, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote. I’m thrilled that Minnesota has same-day registration and now no-excuse absentee and early voting. I’m a big fan of even more efforts to make it easier to vote, such as automatic voter registration and a national holiday on election day (though honestly, going to work is a nice distraction on election day).
So I’m in favor of any candidate who supports making it easier to vote (Spoiler Alert: That’s Steve Simon.)
John Howe is a former state senator and former mayor of Red Wing. He made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican endorsement for secretary of state in 2014. Howe seems to focus on bringing integrity back to the office of secretary of state, pointing to a 2012 issue where the DFL was fined $100,000 for coordinating the campaigns of 13 state senators. I don’t remember hearing much about this issue, but the GOP complaint seems to be that coordinating a photoshoot helped 11 of those 13 senators win (Howe lost one of those races), giving the DFL control of the Senate. I don’t want to be flip with campaign finance law, but this doesn’t sound like widespread fraud and manipulation. It sounds like Howe has a grudge.
Steve Simon was first elected as secretary of state in 2014. Previously he served in the Minnesota House for 10 years. His “Freedom to Vote” platform includes automated voter registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, true early voting, and restoring the vote to convicted felons who have paid their debt to society. In the legislature, Simon fought against the voter ID amendment, and as secretary of state helped institute ‘no excuse’ absentee voting.
In 2012 Howe voted to require photo ID to vote, a proposed Constitutional amendment that failed. That’s about where he’s at—making it harder to vote. He doesn’t say that, he says he wants to make it easier for people to vote. But only eligible people.
Simon counters with the facts that voter fraud is incredibly rare. Minnesota has also reclaimed the top spot in the nation for voter turnout under Simon, so that’s a big win.
I suppose there’s more to the secretary of state job than elections. It’s also where you do your business registration, but honestly, democracy is where it’s at.
I love voting. I take my kids voting. I want more people voting. I want it easier to vote. I want systems that won’t be hacked. I don’t want ridiculous hurdles to vote.
So I’m voting for Steve Simon.
Vote November 6
That’s my take. Make up your own mind and then vote on November 6 (or earlier).