Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has introduced legislation to expand mail-in voting and reduce in-person polling places. Ostensibly intended only to be in effect should Gov. Walz’ state of emergency stretch into the summer and fall, Simon’s proposal is in keeping with earlier efforts to make absentee voting “easier”.
As reported by the Star Tribune on April 8, Simon envisions making “temporary, one-time” changes that would automatically mail ballots to registered voters. He is also asking for extra time for election administrators to process the votes.
Simon justifies these changes as “public health” measures, pointing out that some current polling places are in sensitive locations such as senior living high-rises, nursing homes and care facilities. Closing and consolidating polling places would result in increased traffic and wait times at the remaining locations.
Republicans in the House and Senate pointed out that Minnesota’s existing laws governing absentee voting are already sufficient to allow for the safe administration of the coming elections.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan agreed. "Minnesota has a great, no-excuse absentee voting system in which any eligible voter can vote by mail, without any changes to the law, should they choose to do so. Attempting to change a law now for elections that are months away is extremely premature and a disappointing power grab by the Democrats at a time of extreme unease."
Rep. Jim Nash (R, Waconia) expressed concern that “The way the bill sits today does allow for heavy electioneering, and that is something we want to avoid.” He suggested that instead of reducing the number of polling places, the number should be increased to reduce the number of people congregating at one site.
Max Rymer, now from SD50 and who was the 2016 Republican-endorsed candidate for House District 49B, is running for Republican National Committeeman from Minnesota.
The current National Committeeman, Rick Rice, is not seeking re-election after serving for four years. No one else has yet made public their intent to run for that position.
Along with the MN GOP Chair, the National Committeeman and Committeewoman represent Minnesota Republicans on the Republican National Committee. They attend formal RNC meetings three times a year and serve in national and regional capacities as appointed.
In his announcement letter, Max Rymer said, “The role of Committeeman, as I see it, is to help bolster the relationship between the state party and Republican Party leadership in DC. Minnesota, year after year, presents a golden opportunity to get our candidates elected up and down the ballot. We need to help Washington take notice and invest in our races. That is what I will help do and am uniquely positioned to do. Furthermore, the Committeeman must assist the chair in fundraising and attracting financial resources to flow into the party. As a business owner and guy who’s used to closing deals, I will help make that happen.”
More about Max can be found on his website.
The National Committeeman is a volunteer position, with only certain expenses reimbursed. The election will be held at the MN GOP State Central meeting on May 15 in Rochester. It is a four-year term, roughly concurrent with the presidential term in office. The newly elected Committeeman will officially take over his duties from his predecessor immediately after the Republican National Convention in August.
The Minnesota Trump Victory Campaign has announced volunteer opportunities that will support President Trump and our Republican candidates in our efforts to win this Fall.
Kevin Poindexter, the Minnesota campaign director, stated that “We have a few things volunteers can help us with right now:”
• Making phone calls on Reddialer for the President from the comfort of their own home
• Digital Voter Reg from list of people who attended President Trump’s rally but are not currently registered
• Recruit for additional trainings we have. Those can be found at the campaign's trumpvictory website.
• Attend one of our virtual trainings which can also be found at the trumpvictory website.
All these can be done anytime from 9am-9pm from the comfort of their own home and is solely volunteer work.
Any questions? Please reach out to Kevin at KPoindexter@gop.com.
I have been an election judge at a precinct in Edina for over 5 years. Normally, there are an even number of Republican and DFL election judges. At the presidential primary in early March, there were 4 DFL judges and 2 Republican judges in my precinct. I was told there were no more trained Republican election judges available. I am asking you to consider signing up for this paid role, if you can.
There are two training session ahead of the election. One is to go over procedures. One is to go over the iPads we use to register voters. Everyone is trained on every job on election day.
We arrive at 6:00 am on election day and help with set up of the area and equipment. At 7:00 am the doors open to voters. During the day, we rotate jobs to keep fresh. We can also take short breaks. It feels like a real team effort throughout the day. If questions come up, the head judges will figure things out. Everyone, regardless of party, is there to make sure the election is fair and accurate. At 8:00 pm the doors close. We then close-up the machines and make sure the votes totals are sent online to Hennepin County. The back up paperwork is sent to city hall.
One is paid $11.00 per hour for the training and your time on election day. The bigger satisfaction is knowing that every vote was counted accurately and you were part of the election team.
There are a few tasks during election day where both a Republican and DFL judge need to work together to assist a voter. That is why we need more Republicans willing to serve as election judges. People who volunteered at the 2/25 Caucus at South View in Edina and Jefferson in Bloomington have had your names submitted already. But we can use more.Read more
Using “peacetime emergency” powers, on Monday evening Gov. Walz ordered a 10-day closure of some businesses. These include: bars, restaurant and coffee house seating areas (delivery or drive-thru still available), museums, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, amusement parks, indoor gyms, sports facilities, bowling alleys, and boating clubs. The closure order is in effect from 5 PM Tuesday 3/17 through 3/27. The intent is to slow/prevent the spread of Covid-19 / Coronavirus.
The full list of what’s closed is in the image at left (Credit: Tom Hauser of KSTP). Note that grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies will remain open.
Updated 3/17 to note also that Hennepin County library walk-in access is now closed thru 4/6.
Local news sources focused on different portions of the message and impacts and provide some insights.
Bring Me the News mentions what's open.
Star Tribune focused on St. Patrick's Day impacts.
Alpha News picked up on the unemployment impacts and Walz's statement that more or longer closures could be needed.
The Bloomington Charter Commission has announced they will meet to discuss two topics: Ranked Choice Voting and Organized Trash Collection. The meeting will take place on Monday, March 23, in the Haeg Conference Room, Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm.
The Charter Commission may discuss whether Ranked Choice Voting can be imposed by an ordinance passed by the City Council or if it needs to be voted on by referendum. The concern is that there are no state statutes or rules that pertain specifically to such voting. Is the city able to make their own rules for voting in local elections?
The Charter Commission also needs to review the recent Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on Bloomington’s “organized” system of trash collection. The Court held that the City of Bloomington acted outside its authority in rejecting a ballot measure which gives voters the right to choose whether to continue with Organized Collection of waste hauling in the City of Bloomington.
This will be an open meeting, although it is not clear if the public will be allowed to speak. Citizens concerned with these developments are urged to attend to at least show their interest. With many meetings and larger gatherings being rescheduled, please verify on the city website before travelling to attend.
Last Thursday, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act passed the MN Senate by a unanimous vote. The Senate legislation sets up a means by which a person with diabetes who cannot afford insulin can get it at little cost. The bill must now be reconciled with a House bill in conference committee.
How to provide insulin at little cost to those without adequate insurance has long been the sticking point. The DFL position has been to fund the program through high fees on insulin makers. Republicans leaned toward setting up and administering the program using state money, expecting drug companies to provide the insulin at no charge.
The bill that was ultimately approved unanimously was put forth by Republican Senator Scott Jenson (pictured on right), who is also a practicing doctor in Chaska. According to a March 13 MinnPost article, it requires no state funding. Rather, it would rely on existing patient assistance programs employed by drug makers Sanofi, Lilly, and Novo Nordisk. Should any of these drug companies not agree to take part, they would initially be subject to fines of $100,000 a month. After six months, a company that failed to join the program would see fines jump to $200,000 a month.
While PhRMA, the industry trade group, has opposed plans that compel the drug industry provide products for low or no cost, Sen. Jenson believes that the companies would prefer his plan to a House bill that imposes $38 million in license fees to pay for a state-run program
Voter turnout for the MN Presidential Primary March 3 was a respectable 26% overall statewide. More than 140,500 Republicans voted and about 5-times more Democrats showed up to vote.
In SD49A, Edina’s turnout was better than the statewide number, about 36% and there were 15 DFL voters for every 1 Republican who showed up. In SD49B, Bloomington/Eden Prairie, 1 in 3 registered voters participated (33%) and there were 9-times more DFL voters than Republicans.
In case you chose not to vote out of shyness for declaring your party-affiliation out loud at the polling place (for the Presidential Primary only), fears of that were unfounded in our area. The use of technology for the verification of registration and ballot request helped preserve privacy. After a voter stated name/address to an election judge who located the individual's registration, the screen was rotated to allow the voter to press a button to indicate which party's ballot they wanted. The ballot-request slip printed on identical plain paper was then given to the voter, who turned it in to a 2nd judge in exchange for their paper ballot from the appropriate party. There was no audible party-identification.
Unfortunately a staff member at the office of the Secretary of State mis-used technology. For a portion of the morning of March 3, those looking online to find their voting locations were instead electronically re-directed to a Democrat PAC (Political Action Committee) website. Once there, they were required to enter personal identifying information before proceeding. In essence the Secretary of State facilitated disclosure of voter data to an organization other than the "major political parties" authorized by the MN Presidential Primary legislation.
SD49's own Barbara Sutter, MN GOP Secretary and former SD49 GOP Co-Chair, announced on March 2 that she is running for Republican National Committeewoman from Minnesota.
The current National Committeewoman, Janet Beihoffer, is not seeking re-election after serving in that position for eight years. Becky Hall of Duluth has also declared as a candidate for National Committeewoman.
Along with the MN GOP Chair, the National Committeewoman and Committeeman represent Minnesota Republicans on the Republican National Committee. They attend formal RNC meetings three times a year and serve in national and regional capacities as appointed.
In her announcement letter, Barb Sutter said, “I’ve had the pleasure of joining the Minnesota Delegation at several RNC Meetings over the past year. I’ve had the opportunity to meet our fellow RNC Chairmen, Committee members and RNC staff, and have enjoyed helping build our party nationally. I’m particularly proud of working on RNC staff coming here to support our Affiliate activities, which is a first for us!
“I intend to bring the same energy to this new role, and I believe that I can continue growing the value of the position. I want to leverage the national exposure we’ve had, to bring more resources to Minnesota.
“Together, our priority over the next eight months is 1) delivering our state’s 10 electoral votes to President Trump, 2) winning congressional seats, 3) holding the majority in the MN Senate, and 4) winning back the MN House. Through my time in this party, I feel confident that I can help the team work effectively to do just that.”
The National Committeewoman is a volunteer position, with only certain expenses reimbursed. The election will be held at the MN GOP State Central meeting on May 15 in Rochester. It is a four-year term, roughly concurrent with the presidential term in office. The newly elected Committeewoman will officially take over her duties from her predecessor immediately after the Republican National Convention in August.
Kendall Qualls has challenged Third District Congressman Dean Phillips on his recent vote in favor of the so-called “PRO Act”, which contains harmful provisions for employers, employees and residents of the Third District.
The Republican candidate in the Third Congressional District, Kendall Qualls pointed out that the "Protecting the Right to Organize Act", or PRO Act, amends the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in several important ways. The PRO Act reflects the objectives of unions and their allies which are, in short, to prop up labor unions at the expense of employers and employees.
The bill radically rewrites American labor law in favor of organized labor.
“Dean Phillips campaigned as a moderate and said he would govern as a moderate, but his vote for Big Labor’s “PRO-Act” shows he’s taking his marching orders from union bosses and Nancy Pelosi. On issue after issue he has aligned himself with the most extreme elements of the Democratic Party,” said Qualls.
“Dean Phillips making appearances at our local chambers of commerce and attempting to pass himself off as a pro-business Democrat is nothing but a facade,” said Qualls. “Once again, Dean’s quotes don’t match his votes,” concluded Qualls.Read more