What’s the big deal?

Election integrity is the big deal and the city of Minnetrista took an enormous stride toward that end last Thursday at a specially called council meeting to discuss the election process in Minnetrista and the role of election judges and absentee ballot board members.

State law requires that an absentee ballot board be established by the city council that is comprised of election judges, chosen from the major party lists, to accept/reject absentee ballots. It was discovered that in the past Minnetrista had not been appointing an absentee ballot board and had, instead, been using city staff to perform these duties.

Thanks to the Minnesota Voters Alliance filing a petition against the city of Minneapolis for doing virtually the same thing (Minnetrista differs slightly in that it only handles walk-in absentee voting presently) and pointing out applicable statutes showing cities magnifying glass2are required to use election judges, chosen from party lists to establish the ballot board, Minnetrista was given the opportunity to scrutinize their past practices and to comply with the law.

As a result, for the first time, the Minnetrista city council has established an absentee ballot board comprised of election judges chosen from the party lists and will not be using city staff to accept/reject absentee ballots.

So why is this such a big deal? Because local government staff, whether from a city or county (both process absentee ballots), care very much about who will serve on their city council, board of county commissioners, state legislature, on up to the Governor and POTUS. They work closely with these elected representatives and develop relationships with them over time. Those relationships, good or bad, create an inherent conflict of interest in the performance of certain election duties that can impact election outcomes. No one would argue they don’t. That’s precisely why our laws require elections judges from different major political parties to be present when absentee ballots are accepted & rejected.

Unfortunately the practice of using local government staff to perform election duties meant for election judges is widespread throughout the state of Minnesota and likely the country.

Other cities’ and counties’ elected representatives need to ask questions of their election administrators to make sure they are complying with the law. There’s still time to get it right before the general election. And that’s a big deal.


Should city of Minnetrista advocate for mail-in voting for general election?

Offering absentee mail-in voting, especially for the elderly or those vulnerable to infectious disease, traveling or physically unable (military) to get to the polls is, of course, legitimate. The city of Minnetrista has taken it to another level, however. City staff last week posted on Facebook the following message advocating that all voters vote by mail in the August primary and the general election which is five months away:

“Starting today, Minnesotans can request an absentee mail ballot for the upcoming August and November elections! To maintain social distancing, the City of Minnetrista encourages everyone to vote absentee by mail instead of in person on election day. ” [emphasis added]

The Minnetrista city council did not issue the statement above. In fact, the city council hasn’t even discussed, to-date, the matter of absentee or mail-in voting. So it was obviously someone on staff that made the post. Upon seeing the post I requested it be taken down immediately, which it was. However, it had a life of over 8 hours and was shared by several people.

There has been much discussion and controversy nationwide over the use of absentee mail-in ballots and the oversight, or lack thereof, of the process that makes it more vulnerable to fraud. The city’s job is to make voting methods available, not to advocate for them, especially with the politically charged environment out there today. www.ShannonBruceForMayor.com