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Hubbard County auditor addresses voter misinformation

Hubbard County Auditor Kay Rave visited in depth with two voters skeptical of the election process.

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Hubbard County Auditor Kay Rave visited in depth with two voters skeptical of the election process.

Nicole Guida and Ray Kraemer spoke to county commissioners during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s board meeting.

Guida had a petition from Hubbard County residents “who have reason to believe the use of electronic voting machines are susceptible to hacking and put free and fair elections at risk.”

“I want to know if any of you can guarantee that any foreign, registered company or foreign entity is not involved in electronic ballot machines, electronic counting of votes and electronic reporting of votes,” she said.

Guida suggested eliminating mail-in ballots and ceasing use of voting machines in order to “guarantee” a free and fair election.

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Kraemer of White Oak Township asked for reassurances that his vote will count. He claimed there are “downright, unethical players pulling the levers in every state. … Minnesota is one of the worst in the U.S.A., i.e., no provisional ballots.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), provisional ballots “ensure that voters are not excluded from the voting process due to an administrative error. They provide a fail-safe mechanism for voters who arrive at the polls on Election Day and whose eligibility to vote is uncertain.” Standards for handling provisional ballots are determined by state law.

All state legislators and legislative staff are automatically members of NCSL, a bipartisan organization.

Kraemer also expressed concern about same-day voter registration, voting machines, “unused ballots,” absentee voting and “vote shaping.”

Machines can’t be hacked

Rave later told the Enterprise she did not receive the petition, but she spoke at length with Guida and Kraemer.

She pointed out, once again, that “none of the election equipment can be accessed via the internet.”

Rave explained, “The DS200s that are used to count ballots in all in-person precincts use a thumb drive to record ballot data, which is then processed using a dedicated, stand-alone computer that formats the data into a transmittable file that is then directly uploaded to the Secretary of State’s office after polls close on election night.”

The DS200s only use electricity, plugging into an outlet the same way toasters and washing machines do, Rave said.

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In addition, the Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) certifies all election equipment used in Minnesota. “Counties are not approved to purchase or use equipment that isn’t first certified by the state,” Rave said. “Every piece of equipment is tested and certified for accuracy by two or more election workers from different major parties before going to the precincts.”

Barcoded ballots

All ballots are under lock and key at the Hubbard County Government Center, she continued.

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Printed on special paper, every absentee ballot has a barcode. Only one ballot is issued per voter. Every absentee ballot has a matching label that is placed on the absentee’s application.

The process is the same for a mail-in ballot, except there is no application form because they are only sent to a registered voter living in a mail-in precinct.

At in-person voting, election judges ensure there is one signed ballot per voter.

In 2022, there are 10 mail-in-only precincts in Hubbard County.

Election judges from both parties

Before removing ballots from their secrecy envelopes, Rave checks that the number of received absentee or mail-in ballots matches the number of ballots mailed per precinct.

Two election judges from separate parties review each ballot and initial it.

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No one knows the results of the election until after voting closes at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Rave noted, and that data is only disclosed to the SOS.

Every Minnesota county is required to audit votes in randomly chosen precincts after the election.

Hubbard County’s canvassing board will meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the government center. “We will randomly select two precincts to count by hand in three races,” Rave explained.

The SOS sends correspondence indicating which three races to count.

Hand counting will be done at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 in the south conference room on the third floor of the government center.

Both of these events are open to the public, but Rave said the conference room is small, so viewers watch through the windows.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Approved a one-year contract for $8,355 with Everbridge of Pasadena, Calif.
  • Approved the contract amendment with MEnD Correctional Care, PLLC of Sartell for total compensation of $189,800 per year.
  • Approved an amendment to the 2020-21 Natural Resources Block Grant that gives the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District an additional year in which to expend the 2021 Wetland Conservation Act funds.
  • Reviewed results of Oct. 10 timber auction.

The board held a closed session regarding the Houska-LaDuke case, citing attorney-client privilege.

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Related Topics: HUBBARD COUNTYELECTION 2022
Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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