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Minnesota GOP secretary of state nominee pushes voting restrictions while denying election results


Republican nominee for Secretary of State Kim Crockett offers a list of voting restrictions she says will bolster confidence in an electoral system she tried to undermine by falsely portraying the 2020 election as illegitimate .

If elected to oversee Minnesota’s election, Crockett said she would push to shorten the state’s early voting period from 46 days to no more than two weeks, eliminate same-day voter registration, requiring photo ID at polling stations and limiting the use of mail-in ballots. The Minnesota legislature would have to approve such changes.

“The only goal I have is to calm the conversation in Minnesota about who won,” said Crockett, an attorney running against Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon. “It’s hard to have the conversation because there’s a feverish propaganda campaign going on targeting candidates like me where we’re being labeled terrible things. … Holocaust denier. What does that mean? I don’t know what it is. I try to provide reasonable alternatives to how we vote.”

Crockett is among a number of Republican candidates running for Secretary of State nationwide who deny or question the legitimacy of the 2020 election, despite state-by-state reviews confirming the victory of the President Joe Biden on former President Donald Trump. Crockett thinks Minnesota should tighten its election laws even in the absence of evidence of widespread voter fraud, saying “it’s just something we have to take on board.”

She alleges that Simon, who supports mail-in voting, “rigged” the election in Minnesota when he agreed to a court-approved consent decree that relaxed some mail-in voting requirements amid the pandemic. The 2020 changes affected all voters, but Crockett argues they favored Democrats, who she says are more likely to vote by mail than Republicans.

A record 58% of Minnesotans voted absentee in 2020 — more than double the previous election — as people sought to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.

Democrats and voting rights groups have sounded the alarm over Crockett’s rhetoric, saying it undermines confidence in the election, and they fear his political agenda could make it harder to vote for Minnesotans.

“Where we take issue is when a candidate uses information they know to be false, data they know to be suspect at best, to try to advance a particular political agenda that they know they don’t do. in any way, shape or form, do anything to improve access to the vote,” said Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, a nonpartisan suffrage group that does not typically weigh in on specific breeds.

In August, Common Cause Minnesota released a statement chastising Crockett for comments she made during a radio interview decrying proposed changes to election law and telling listeners, “It’s our 9/11.” Crockett told the Star Tribune that she meant the proposed changes should be a “wake-up call” for Republicans, then claimed to be the victim of a “theater twist”.

Simon, running for his third four-year term, has repeatedly said the 2020 elections were “fair, accurate, honest and secure”. As of last month, Simon said there have been only 16 proven cases of voter misconduct among Minnesota’s 3.3 million eligible voters since the 2020 election, and some of them have failed.

He suggested his race against Crockett could determine whether Minnesota would keep its existing election laws, which have helped the state rank first nationally in voter turnout, or impose “tough” restrictions based on ” conspiracy theories”.

“I think democracy is on the ballot,” Simon said.

Crockett has focused on ballot integrity throughout her years as a public policy advocate. She started her career as a corporate lawyer, working for TCF Bank. She served on the Deephaven City Council for several years before joining the Center of the American Experiment, a conservative Minnesota think tank.

Crockett and other Republicans who have been called “election deniers” have accused their opponents of trying to silence talk of election integrity. They also note that some Democrats doubted Trump’s 2016 election victory, saying it was marred by Russian interference.

The GOP candidate said it was not her job to find evidence to back up her claims of election rigging.

During the election campaign, Crockett said she heard from many Republican voters who lacked confidence in the electoral system.

Tighter election laws, Crockett said, could help restore the confidence of Republican voters. She wants to “lighten” postal voting by limiting it to certain people, whom she did not specify. But she noted that some European countries don’t allow postal voting “unless you’re in the military or hospitalized”.

GOP state Rep. Dean Urdahl said he supports Crockett because he wants to see more Minnesotans return to voting in person on Election Day.

Republican State Senator and former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer also endorsed Crockett, who she said will “support greater transparency and auditing” of election results. She says Simon ignored election concerns from some Republicans.

“Because half the people are happy with the outcome doesn’t mean everyone is happy with the process,” Kiffmeyer said.

Simon said he seeks to improve the confidence of Minnesotans by countering misinformation with facts. For example, Simon said some prominent conservatives told their social media followers to “get agitated” for post-election audits. Minnesota is already checking election results from random precincts.

The state also conducts public accuracy tests just before the election. Any citizen can observe election administrators attempting to trick voting equipment, a test to ensure the machines detect any irregularities.

“We have a robust system of multi-layered reviews and audits in Minnesota,” Simon said. “Instead of talking about it, me and we need to show, not just tell.”

Ultimately, Simon isn’t sure such displays will mend distrust in the election. He said politicians who repeat lies about elections sow even more doubt. He specifically targeted Crockett for his “rigged” comments on the campaign trail.

“I think it’s weird and disqualifying,” Simon said. “It stems from a disturbing and longstanding addiction on his part to conspiracy theories.”

Earlier this year, the chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party apologized for a campaign video Crockett played at the state’s Republican convention that used an anti-Semitic trope. The video showed liberal donor George Soros as a puppeteer with Simon and Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias dangling from his fingers and displayed the words “Let’s destroy the election forever and ever”. All three men are Jewish.

In 2019, Crockett was suspended from her position as vice president and general counsel of the Center of the American Experiment for comments she made to The New York Times about the resettlement of Somali refugees in Minnesota.

“These are not people who come from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible,” Crockett told The Times.

Her comments were widely criticized as Islamophobic and she apologized at the time. But in an interview last month, Crockett insisted his comment to The Times was “taken out of context”.

Former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe, a Democrat, said she opposed Crockett’s proposed vote changes and accused her “of trying to scare voters into thinking that their vote is not counted”.

“It seems to me that we’re going back, back, back to the philosophy, ‘trying to stop people from voting,'” Growe said.

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