The main job of Minnesota’s secretary of state is to oversee and administer elections, which Democratic incumbent Mark Ritchie has done superbly in his four years in office. Indeed, voters going to the polls Tuesday should appreciate the ease and volumes at which Minnesotans cast ballots. That’s exactly why they should re-elect Ritchie.
Ritchie directed the high-profile recount of the U.S. Senate race between Senator Al Franken and Senator Norm Coleman in 2008. While the process became contentious and litigious at times, polls consistently showed substantial majorities of Minnesotans thought the recount was fair to both candidates and that Ritchie was performing his duties well. The recount was not rushed, proceeded professionally and came to the correct conclusion.
Republican Dan Severson, Ritchie’s opponent, favors measures that would drive down voter turnout, like eliminating the ability to vouch for voters on Election Day and requiring that all voters show photo identification at the polls. He’s argued that more Minnesotans would vote if they had more faith its election system.
That’s an odd argument, considering the state has led the nation in turnout for the last seven election cycles and that cases of voter fraud have been especially low. Students in particular should be wary of Severson’s proposals, since they are significantly less likely than the average citizen to have a valid form of identification.
Ritchie, however, has made efforts to enfranchise every Minnesotan. Successfully increasing voting among Minnesotans serving overseas in the armed forces has been another one of his accomplishments. There’s no reason voters shouldn’t give him the chance to achieve even more.