Tricounty News

Thanking those who make our democracy work



By Mark Ritchie

Minnesota Secretary of State

Minnesotans are civic-minded people. Even in an off-year election, more than 2.1 million of our state's eligible voters went to the polls Nov. 2, to select new leaders for all levels of our government. Minnesotans can be proud that we again led the nation in voter turnout. With another election behind us, we can again attest to the fact that our cost-effective and secure elections system continues to handle high levels of voter turnout because of the commitment to excellence demonstrated by Minnesota's election judges and officials.

More than 30,000 Minnesotans, who are our neighbors, friends, and family members, volunteered this year as election judges to ensure voters could cast their ballots with ease and confidence. In addition, thousands of township, city and county election staff worked long hours, before, during and after the election to make sure that each vote was accurately tallied. Then too, there are the multitudes of citizens who answered democracy's call by working on political campaigns or being candidates for office. I express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for making our state's election system a national model.

I would also like to thank all of the members of the Legislature that worked to successfully pass election law changes that were the result of suggestions made by election judges and officials after the 2008 election. Changes were successfully implemented and made a big difference. Military voters had more time to receive and return their ballots. Election judges no longer processed absentee ballots in the precinct after the polls closed. Rather, these ballots were instead processed uniformly at the county or city level soon after they were received, which gave many citizens who made errors on their ballot materials an opportunity to correct the error and cast their ballots properly.

I look forward to traveling throughout our great state to thank election judges and officials for their extraordinary efforts and to seek ideas on how to improve upon our system. I encourage all Minnesotans to take a moment to express their appreciation for these exceptional servants to our democracy. They make our elections possible.