Former election worker lodges complaint with Olmsted County
A former election worker has filed a complaint against the Olmsted County Elections Department alleging that workers failed to follow proper procedure when processing absentee ballots.
A former election worker has lodged a complaint against the Olmsted County Elections Department, alleging that workers failed to follow proper procedures when processing absentee ballots.
Lona Schreier, of Rochester, submitted the complaint to the Olmsted County Attorney's Office on Friday. She alleges that workers failed to follow state requirements when handling absentee ballots. She claims workers began to "cut corners" when processing the ballots because of high turnout and a lack of staff.
Schreier alleges that the county did not have two people — a Republican and a Democrat — determining whether to accept or reject absentees, which she claims is required by law. She also alleged that the absentee roster was incomplete and ballots were exposed to the public prior to Election Day.
"I want the Minnesota election laws and statutes to be followed, and I don't believe that being too busy is a reason not to follow the laws and statutes," Schreier told the Post Bulletin.
Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem confirmed that the complaint was received Friday. He said the matter is under investigation.
Mark Krupski, director of Olmsted County Property Records and Licensing, said county employees have been told that while the complaint is under investigation, they are "not at liberty to speak about the matter."
Schreier worked as a temporary election employee beginning in 2012. She said she shared her concerns about how absentee ballots were being handled to other employees, but those concerns were not addressed. Her last day working for the county was Nov. 5, three days before the election.
She said she does not consider herself to be a Democrat or a Republican, and that partisanship did not motivate her to submit the complaint. She said she did reach out to a few people who are Republicans to help her with the complaint.
Schreier said it was difficult for her to go forward with the complaint because she enjoys doing election work, but she said it was important to her that her concerns be addressed.
On Election Day, she said she went to her polling place to discover the voting records showed she had voted absentee even though she had not.
"If that was a mistake, it was a really, really stupid mistake and an unacceptable mistake," she said.
Ostrem said that a second, unrelated complaint also has been received by the county in connection with the election. Ostrem said the county received a complaint alleging that during absentee voting, someone was providing inappropriate assistance to other voters. He plans to dismiss that complaint because the identity of the person accused is unknown.
"You can't charge somebody (when) you don't know their name, address and identification," he said.