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Secretary of State Steve Simon’s Inaugural Address

January 5, 2015

"As Secretary of State, I’ll work with anyone, of any political affiliation, from any part of our state – to secure and strengthen our right to vote in Minnesota; to help make our democracy worthy of our best traditions. Together. The Minnesota Way."

Secretary Simon’s Inaugural Remarks
As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, it’s a great honor to be with you today.

I first want to thank Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for his years of service and devotion during a time of close elections and unparalleled scrutiny. Thanks, Mr. Secretary, for your time at the center of the storm.

And, of course, I want to thank my fellow Minnesotans for allowing me the great honor of serving as Secretary of State — an honor I take very seriously.

The office of Secretary of State has many duties, from helping businesses to protecting victims of domestic violence. But most Minnesotans think of the Secretary first as the chief administrator of elections.

In Minnesota, we know how important elections can be.

We know that voting matters.

We know that we have to make democracy real for everyone.

And we know that finding common ground is the best way to get results.

That vision of voting has been the Minnesota Way.

This year, America will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. When President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law on August 6, 1965, he rightly called it “a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that’s ever been won on any battlefield.”

The Voting Rights Act brought millions of Americans out of the shadows by bringing an end to their silence. We didn’t just make a promise – we made it policy – to give millions of Americans a voice – by giving them a vote.

Like most landmark legislation, the Voting Rights Act was controversial at the time. And the debate in Congress was sometimes bitter. But Minnesotans did what they do best: they found common ground.

In 1965, Minnesota had a congressional delegation that was very divided politically. The members of our delegation disagreed sharply on many prominent issues of the day – Vietnam, Medicare, immigration. But when the roll was called on the Voting Rights Act, Minnesota's delegation spoke with one voice. All of our voting members, senators and representatives, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, voted to affirm the fundamental right for all Americans to have a direct voice in their government.

That is the Minnesota Way. It doesn’t mean we always agree with one another. It doesn’t mean we set aside politics. It means we always remember that politics is the means to an end; not an end in itself – especially when it comes to the fundamental right to vote.

Over the past fifty years, we’ve put those principles into practice in our state election system. And that Minnesota system has become one of the most copied and envied in the nation. But there’s more to do. And we can do new things – bold things – the Minnesota way.

We CAN make it easier for ALL eligible Minnesotans to vote.

We CAN reduce the gap between those who vote regularly and those who don’t.

We CAN ensure our elections are open and honest; safe and trustworthy.

As Secretary of State, I’ll work with anyone, of any political affiliation, from any part of our state – to secure and strengthen our right to vote in Minnesota; to help make our democracy worthy of our best traditions. Together. The Minnesota Way.

Thank you. May God bless us all.

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Contact: Ryan Furlong, 651-297-8919, ryan.furlong@state.mn.us

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