Mark Sommerhauser’s article on Rep. Dan Severson’s candidacy for Minnesota’s Secretary of State office quotes Mark Ritchie several times. Here’s one of those quotes:

Ritchie emphasizes the recount results held up to months of scrutiny. Local auditors conducted the recount; a three-judge panel oversaw Coleman’s election contest, and the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against Coleman’s appeal.

The work of those involved in the recount earned near-universal acclaim, even from members of Severson’s party, Ritchie says. “Their work made Minnesotans proud,” Ritchie said. “I hear that on the street; north, south, east and west in the state. “I hear it often from people who did not support the candidate who won.”

I wrote about Mark Alvarez’s investigation for KSTP into the troubled absentee ballot process in this post. Here’s part of that post:

In the last election Ramsey county, Minneapolis and St. Louis county (the county I did my investigation in) had a combined rejection of only 7 absentee ballots. Carver county officials (a county much smaller than any one of the above named counties) had 188 rejected absentee ballots.

In South Minneapolis, Margaret Dolan told Alvarez that they didn’t reject any absentee ballots because they weren’t told what the criteria was for accepting or rejecting absentee ballots.

Let’s first stipulate that Mark Ritchie isn’t responsible for training election judges. That’s the job of the county clerks. What is Mark Ritchie’s job is to make sure that county clerks do a good job of training election judges. A secretary of state committed to election integrity would verify that election judges know the criteria codified into law for the handling of absentee ballots:

The election judges shall mark the return envelope “Accepted” and initial or sign the return envelope below the word “Accepted” if the election judges or a majority of them are satisfied that:
(1) the voter’s name and address on the return envelope are the same as the information provided on the absentee ballot application;
(2) the voter’s signature on the return envelope is the genuine signature of the individual who made the application for ballots and the certificate has been completed as prescribed in the directions for casting an absentee ballot, except that if a person other than the voter applied for the absentee ballot under applicable Minnesota Rules, the signature is not required to match;
(3) the voter is registered and eligible to vote in the precinct or has included a properly completed voter registration application in the return envelope; and
(4) the voter has not already voted at that election, either in person or by absentee ballot.
There is no other reason for rejecting an absentee ballot. In particular, failure to place the envelope within the security envelope before placing it in the outer white envelope is not a reason to reject an absentee ballot.

KSTP’s Alvarez questioned SecState Ritchie about why he found so many absentee ballots that were accepted that should’ve been rejected. Ritchie’s response was to play the victim card. What Alvarez did was show Ritchie the photocopies of the envelopes containing the absentee ballots. Minnesota state election statutes require that the envelopes be signed by the legally registered voter who is voting via absentee ballot and the signature of the legally registered voter who witnessed the filling out of the absentee ballot.

What KSTP’s Alvarez did was show Ritchie envelopes without the voters’signatures. Some were visibly marked as accepted. Others were properly rejected. Ritchie’s response was typical liberal victim:

“You would’ve had to tell me to bring my glasses if you wanted to spring something on me.”

Is Mr. Ritchie so blind that he can’t see whether the voter’s signature is on the envelope? Is Mr. Ritchie so blind that he can’t see whether the witness’s signature is on the envelope? Does Mr. Ritchie know the law for casting a valid absentee ballot? If he does, does he insist that the law is followed?

It’s troublesome to me that Mr. Alvarez was threatened with legal action if he investigated the election results. Doesn’t that sound like intimidation from election officials? That can’t be tolerated.

There’s another thing bothering me about this article. I don’t care whether people applauded the process. People might applaud themselves despite their doing a less-than-adequate job. Outsiders might not know the criteria for accepting or rejecting absentee ballots.

The sole criteria I’m using is whether the law was followed in casting absentee ballots. I’m using that criteria because that’s the objective criteria that the law requires. It’s irrelevant whether election judges don’t know the laws or whether they’re willfully ignoring absentee ballot laws. What’s relevant is whether the laws were followed.

Clearly, that didn’t happen here. Clearly, some counties didn’t follow the clearly written state law.

The question going forward isn’t whether Mr. Ritchie’s rationalizations can be justified. It’s whether Mr. Ritchie insisted that the laws were followed.

Critics of photo ID say it can disenfranchise elderly and disabled people who may not have photo ID. When legislators modify election law, they typically seek consensus to ensure election results are widely viewed as legitimate, Ritchie said.

I’d love asking these faceless critics what they’re basing their opinion on. What proof do they have that shows that the elderly and disabled are disenfranchised by photo ID? If they have proof that it’s disenfranchising voters, is there a solution to fixing that situation? If there is, why hasn’t that change been made?

These critics need to answer why it isn’t possible to craft a system that doesn’t disenfranchise voters but still guarantees election integrity. I’m skeptical that it can’t be done because America was built on the the premise that there isn’t any problem we can’t solve if we just use our ingenuity.

After all, a nation that can do the things we’ve done is capable of designing an election system that’s straightforward and easy for everyone to follow.

That’s why I believe voters will fire Mr. Ritchie this November. We can’t afford having another sloppy election.

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One Response to “Will Voters Reject Ritchie’s Message?”

  • walter hanson says:

    Let me get this straight.

    Joe Mauer is consider to be one of the best hitters in the American League. His success rate is just 35% when he tries to hit.

    Bret Farve is a hall of fame quarterback. On a good season he completes 60% maybe even 70% of his passes.

    Yet in three large counties which are overwhelming Democrat counties the public was apparently succesful in voting absteen almost 100%.

    I say there is something fishy which Mark is ignoring. Of course those votes helped put Franken over the top.

    And lets not forget Ritchie’s office was encourging the judges to go over the rejected absteen balots to admit them.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

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