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Endorsement: With Minnesota elections so well-run, Steve Simon can be rehired as secretary of state

“I want to build on Minnesota’s success story; 2020 was the ultimate stress test for our democracy, and we passed the test. In Minnesota, I’d say we aced the test,” Simon said in an exclusive interview this fall with Forum Communications.

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Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon
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If the Nov. 8 election was an employee performance review, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon could make a pretty convincing case for a pay raise. He certainly wouldn’t deserve to be fired.

In spite of serious public-health worries and unprecedented shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, “No one in Minnesota in 2020 had to choose between their right to vote and their health,” as Simon stated. Thanks to quick-thinking accommodations like increased voting by mail and dropboxes, for the third election in a row, Minnesota led the nation in voter turnout in 2020, with 79.96%. Also, despite noisy, groundless claims of election fraud, only 17 cases of proveable voter misconduct were documented here — out of roughly 3.3 million voters.

Minnesotans know a fair and honest election when they see one. So they participate.

Minnesotans can show their appreciation for an election system that’s the envy of the nation by re-electing Simon, its overseer, to a third term.

“I want to build on Minnesota’s success story; 2020 was the ultimate stress test for our democracy, and we passed the test. In Minnesota, I’d say we aced the test,” Simon said in an exclusive interview this fall with Forum Communications. “A lot of people pulled in the same direction in the state, up and down government, in the private sector, the nonprofit sector. We removed obstacles from the paths of voters, and we made sure that … we had that good result.”

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Simon and others responsible for Minnesota voting did take some misplaced heat for the accommodations made necessary by the pandemic. With restrictions lifted this year, those critics can be assured there will be far fewer dropboxes (they just aren’t needed with polling places and offices open and safe to enter); that the dropboxes remaining will be monitored 24/7, in person or by camera, in accordance with a new state law; and that witness signatures will again be required on mail-in ballots (the signatures were waived two years ago due to social distancing).

The secretary of state needs to rise above politics, of course, and anyone questioning Simon’s willingness can recall that, in 2016, he took his own DFL Party to the Minnesota Supreme Court — and prevailed — after the DFL said he shouldn’t have allowed Donald Trump and Mike Pence on Minnesota’s ballots over errors on their filing papers.

“My argument was, look, there are other remedies here (like fines or making the candidates redo the paperwork), not the political death penalty,” Simon said. “You have to leave your politics at the door … (and be) fair and impartial.”

In contrast, Simon’s Republican opponent, Kim Crockett, denied the results of the 2020 election and referred to the vote as rigged. In addition, she was suspended 30 days without pay in 2019 by her employer, the Minnesota think tank Center of the American Experiment, after making comments about Somali-Americans. This summer, she and her campaign were criticized for using anti-Semitic imagery at the Minnesota Republican Party endorsement convention.

Concerns rightly can be raised about Simon’s support for automatic voter registration, pre-registering high schoolers to vote, and restoring felons’ right to vote, but details of such reforms can be compromised and hammered out as they’re proposed and debated by a politically balanced St. Paul. Far more relevant now, in this campaign, is Simon’s experience, his vast knowledge of election laws and procedures, and his commitment to ensuring that all eligible Minnesota voters have the chance to cast their ballots in elections that are fair, honest, and trustworthy.

This endorsement represents the opinion of Forum Communications Co. management.

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