Mark Ritchie: A recount to make Minnesota proud

Update 7/23/2009: Mark Ritchie interview on Minnesota Public Radio, yesterday,  after Secretary of the State meeting – comments and calls on recount and future changes in election laws <listen>

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Minnesota Public Radio commentary by Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie <read>

The federal election battles in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004 had done considerable damage to the reputation of election officials and the public’s trust in the validity of our elections. There was a sense of hope that the recount in Minnesota could begin to repair some of that damage and restore faith in our electoral institutions. I believe Minnesota has set a new standard of excellence not only in how we administer elections, but also in how we conduct fair and transparent recounts. I am not alone in that belief.

Much of the credit for the success of the recount goes to the Minnesota lawmakers and elected officials who crafted our elections system and recount procedures

We agree.  The Secretary of State also recommended several reforms for Minnesota:

Implementing early voting can greatly eliminate the number of people casting absentee ballots and thus reduce the number of rejected absentee ballots.

We can streamline our absentee balloting system to simplify the process for voters and save local election officials time and money.

We can cross-check our voter registration database with information from the Social Security Administration and Department of Corrections to make sure our voting lists are as up-to-date and accurate as possible.

We can move the state’s primary to an earlier date to ensure that our military personnel overseas have an opportunity to get their ballot back in time to be counted.

All of the above measures were passed by the Legislature this spring but subsequently vetoed.

It is my hope that with the conclusion of the 2008 election there will be a renewed sense of urgency to enact changes that will help us continue to be a national leader in conducting elections. With 483 days to go until the 2010 election, there is not a minute to waste.

Here we generally agree.  Yet, Connecticut (and each New England state) is not Minnesota.  At CTVotersCount we are conditionally against* early voting for Connecticut.   We are concerned that it could be a costly, risky proposition.

(*) When we say we are “Conditionally Against” a proposition, we mean that nobody has proposed a realistic safe way to accomplish the proposition.  We remain open to the possibility that a means may be found that would pass the scrutiny of the majority of computer scientists, security experts, election officials, and voting integrity advocates.

(*) When we say we are “Conditionally For” a proposition, we mean that other states have safe implementations of the proposition or computer scientists, security experts, election officials, and voting integrity advocates have recommended a safe solution.  We caution that a particular implementation or law may not meet a reasonable standard of safety.

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