Make voting easier and more secure

A campaign to making voting easier and more secure is gaining momentum in Minnesota.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon was in Marshall Friday visiting with Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg to get feedback and talk about election-related issues. Simon met with Independent reporter Deb Gau afterward and stressed the importance of updating voting equipment in Minnesota.

Apparently, Minnesota counties were able to update voting equipment after the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002 after the Florida presidential recount. But Simon claims that equipment is nearing the end of its lifespan and federal funds have dried up. Replacing the equipment bought with the federal funding would cost $28 million.

“It’s a real need. It’s a very important to have smooth operation of elections,” Simon said. But the big question is how to pay for needed equipment, like ballot-counting machines and voting assistance technology.

Lyon County was just one of many stops for Simon during a statewide tour. He also visited with Lincoln County Auditor Deb Vieruf on Friday and Yellow Medicine County Property and Public Services Director Janel Timm.

On Monday, Simon touted the Legislative passage of a reform to special elections in Minnesota. The Elections Omnibus Bill creates five uniform dates throughout the calendar year when a special election in Minnesota is now allowed to be held to fill a vacancy in local elections or for ballot question special elections.

“We should be making it easy as possible for eligible Minnesotans to vote in all elections, and that includes knowing when to vote in special elections,” Simon said. “This is a win for Minnesota voters who want to make their voice hear in all elections and will improve the clarity and consistency around notification in special elections.”

Prior to the new law, special elections could be held at any time of the year, which could result in confusion for voters.

Simon’s statewide tour and The Elections Omnibus Bill are small steps in improving voting in the state. The state and counties should be doing everything possible to ensure easy access for qualified voters to cast ballots.

The recent meddling by the Russians in our past presidential election also is a reminder of the importance of security. Updating voting equipment as soon as possible is a worthwhile goal.

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