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PARK RAPIDS LWV: Count the ways Minnesota elections are safe and secure

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The League of Women Voters is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

One of the most vital issues to be addressed this election season is the security of our elections. We need to remember that each state runs its own elections, so when we read about “problems” in other states that does not necessarily apply to Minnesota.

According to audits and reviews by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office and the Legislative Auditor’s Office, Minnesota elections are safe and secure.

This is also affirmed by the Hubbard County auditor’s office.

  • From when a vote is received at the precinct until it is certified by the county and state, teams of election judges, represented by different parties, handle the ballots.
  • At the state level, a bipartisan post-election audit is conducted to certify the election, which is open to the public, and includes a final report for all counties. 
  • After the audit, all ballots are kept locally in protected storage for 22 months.
  • A formal complaint and public recount process already exists to address  any errors that may occur.

Election results are not official until they have been reviewed and certified by a local canvassing board.
The canvassing board, made up of local officials, checks to make sure the numbers received from the county and election judges at the precincts match. If the numbers don’t match, the canvassing board must figure out where the discrepancy came from before they can certify the results.

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Canvassing boards are also involved in the process of randomly selecting precincts for review after every statewide general election. They can also oversee any recounts. This makes the election results official, pending legal challenges.

After the information is canvassed, the county moves to the post-election review. This process is open to the public. Officials involved are again working in bipartisan pairs at all times.

Additional election security measures are in place statewide:

  • The biggest security system is the decentralization of our election system – there is no “central” or federal system that can be hacked or tampered with. There are federal standards, but each state sets its own laws and standards.
  • Even the padlocks used to seal election results information and voting machines are tracked via serial number to ensure no one tampers with them.
  • Election officials must verify that voting machines are printing out zeros at the start of the day.
  • Paper trails are key in Minnesota and are used at practically every step in the process to check and recheck results.
  • Testing of vote tabulator machines is public.
  • Minnesota has challengers –not poll watchers or poll observers – on Election Day and during the absentee vote certification process, but challengers must have personal knowledge that the person they are challenging is not eligible to vote.
  • Minnesota has a process for people to file complaints if they believe something went wrong or if they saw something against our election laws happening at a polling place. Complaints are turned over to the county attorney. 
  • Transparency is a main focus of the Minnesota elections system.

National Voter Registration Day

Sept. 20 is National Voter Registration Day.

Members of League of Women Voters Park Rapids Area will be available at the Park Rapids Area Library to answer questions and provide information.

Additional resources

For more information, visit these websites:

Minnesota Secretary of State canvassing boards: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/canvassing-boards .

Personal knowledge to challenge a voter’s eligibility: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-day-voting/rules-for-challengers .

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Minnesota Secretary of State post-election reviews: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/post-election-reviews .

League of Women Voters Park Rapids Area (LWVPRA) is a non-partisan organization. Its mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government through education and advocacy. All LWVPRA programs are free and open to the public. Direct any questions about LWVPRA activities, events or on how to join by emailing lwvparkrapids@lwvmn.org. Follow our activities, events on lwvparkrapidsarea.blogspot.com.

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