The votes for your member of U.S. Congress over the past two elections were both separated by less than 1 percent. Two Rochester City Council races were decided two years ago by 60 votes or fewer.
That’s why every voter needs to be confident that your vote truly matters.
We at Citizens for Election Integrity take seriously the concerns of those of you who are reasonably asking: Can I trust voting by mail? Will voting systems in Minnesota be adequately protected from foreign interference? Will my ballot be accurately counted?
With the surge in mail-in ballots, and mindful of the alarming stories about the security of our elections, you should know of Minnesota’s superb track record.
History: We have been voting absentee by mail in Minnesota for over a century. More recently, the options for voting by mail have expanded. Since 2014, any voter has been able to request an absentee ballot and vote from home without providing an excuse. This year there has been a dramatic increase in absentee voting, and we are on track to shatter all previous records for absentee voting.
Security: If you decide to go to the polls on Election Day, voting will be easy and secure. However, no one will be able to vote twice. Procedures that clearly identify and compare who has voted absentee, and who is voting at the polling place on election-day, ensure that no one votes both in-person and absentee.
The Office of the Secretary of State has been working with Homeland Security to prevent the compromise of our election systems. The state has hired a coordinator who ensures that the local units of government, the state, private vendors, and federal agencies are all working together. The focus on cybersecurity extends across all aspects of election administration including voter registration and the dissemination of trusted information to the public as well as the election itself.
Counting: Some states wait until election day to begin to open and process mail-in ballots---not Minnesota. Our election officials can begin processing mail-in ballots two weeks before election day so that those votes can be counted and included in election-night reporting. This year ballots postmarked by election day will continue arriving and being counted for up to seven days, but election officials will publicly report the number of mail ballots still outstanding so we have a context for the changing results.
Audits: Since 2006, Minnesota has conducted post-election audits of randomly selected precincts statewide. Ballots are counted by hand to check the accuracy of voting machines, and the results have consistently shown that the voting machines are accurate. Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota has organized citizen observations of every audit to ensure a public and transparent process. In addition, if elections are close, we have one of the best recount laws in the country that allow candidates to request a hand count of the ballot to verify that the results are correct.
Tips: If you are voting absentee by mail, vote soon so that you have time to correct any potential problems. Track your ballot online at the Secretary of State’s website. Voters can also deliver their completed ballots to their local elections office or go to that office to obtain their ballot and vote early in person. If you have any questions, call your local elections office.
How ever you do it, vote with confidence knowing that our system in Minnesota works and that the results of your elections in and around Rochester—even the closest—can be trusted.
Mark Halvorson is the former director and current board chairman of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota.