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Minnesota secretary of state discusses foreign ballots in International Falls, eh?

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was in International Falls Thursday to talk about unique election challenges in the far northland, says Lisa Kaczkein in the International Falls Daily Journal.

Her story says Ritchie was interested in the effect the close proximity to the Canadian border has on the election.

Koochiching County Auditor/Treasurer Bob Peterson told him that a majority of the county’s “overseas” voters were in fact “over-the-river” voters who live in Fort Frances. They were born in International Falls and continue to have the right to vote for federal offices, he said.

Who knew?

In this past election, Peterson sent 45 e-mail ballots, which could be printed out and mailed back, and received all of them back, he said. Some of the overseas voters also visited the courthouse to vote rather than vote via an overseas ballot, he said.


The story says in part:

“Ritchie also discussed the U.S. Senate recount and ideas proposed as a result.

“The main impression people had with the recount is that it worked well, Ritchie said. The recount was an opportunity to show the state has a good system or it’s full of corruption. He said his fear was that attorneys from the campaigns would “get carried away and take (the system) down.” He noted that other states have observed how fair and transparent the process was.

“A run-off system as an alternative to a recount has been proposed. Although a run-off would be more decisive than a recount, a run-off election could still end in a recount. Ritchie said legislators need to consider that a regular run-off election would include more costs, another month of campaigning and low voter turnout, he said. A run-off election would also take between 45 and 60 days according to federal requirements, which would be the same amount of days it takes for a recount, he added.

“A second proposal is to have early voting in place of absentee ballots.

“Legislative concern with the proposal is if a case arises similar to the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone shortly before the 2002 election. At the time, a second supplemental ballot was sent out, which is no longer legal, Ritchie noted. A proposed bill would call for a special election to be held in the case of a catastrophic event taking place 10 days before an election, he said. Ritchie said he feels there’s a momentum going for early voting and the replacement of supplemental ballots.

“Changing the date of the primary to June has also been proposed. Peterson said he favors a primary in August. A primary in June would cause the filing dates to take place in April. The change would allow more time between a primary and general election in the case of a recount after a primary election. Ritchie added that if a recount had occurred following the primary, absentee ballots wouldn’t have been sent out.

“ ‘We can’t function with a September primary,’ Ritchie said.”

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Comments (1)

First off, the alternatives that Mr. Ritchie are are NOT all the alternatives that Minnesotans see. There is one in particular which Mr. Ritchie omits:

the INSTANT RUNOFF.

This type of runoff would NOT have the various drawbacks that Mr. Ritchie's stated alternatives above declare. It would not add the costs that a runoff special election would, nor would it cause the kind of delay he denotes. Nor would it require additional campaigning nor is there evidence it would cause a lower voter turnout. Nor would it require earlier ballots nor an earlier primary. All of these reasons given for rejecting a "runoff" do not apply to the INSTANT RUNOFF.

My opinion is that Mr. Ritchie and most other partisans in the 2 party system are against an INSTANT RUNOFF for the obvious reason that it would benefit the status of 3rd party candidates, who are currently marginalized in a variety of ways.

If this Senate election had been conducted as an INSTANT RUNOFF, it would have been fascinating to know how many voters would have protested the disappointing choice of major party candidates with a #1 choice of Dean Barkley and #2 for their party's candidate.

Since Mr. Barkley got an impressive 400,000+ votes in the election as it was conducted, might he have WON the election outright, if it had been an INSTANT RUNOFF?

Regardless of speculations about individual contests, this is the right time to alter our MN elections to incorporate an INSTANT RUNOFF. It will solve the arguments of Mr. Ritchie above as regards SOME of the possible alternatives.

Has Mr. Ritchie never heard of an INSTANT RUNOFF before, or does he merely wish to avoid the subject matter?