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Secretary Simon talks about the importance of getting young people engaged in new Students United podcast

October 3, 2017

Secretary Simon talks to Students United in their latest podcast episode about the importance of getting young people engaged in voting and elections.

Click here to listen. Your vote is your voice!

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Vote 2017: Save time at the polls on Election Day and make sure your voter registration is up-to-date!

September 19, 2017

Cities, towns, and school districts across Minnesota will hold elections November 7. Make sure your voter registration is up-to-date by October 17 to save time at the polls on Election Day! 

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International Falls Journal | OUR VIEW: Good exchange with Simon

July 26, 2017

"But even better, Simon also was here to listen to the concerns and challenges that Borderland businesses face.”

International Falls Journal | OUR VIEW: Good exchange with Simon
By Editorial Board, 7/26/17

Getting the clear picture of the challenges Minnesota businesses face is best done face-to-face.

That’s just what Secretary of State Steve Simon has done for the third consecutive year as he tours all of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

With his staffer behind the wheel, Simon hit the road last week making stops in International Falls, as well as in Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, and Itasca counties.

Locally, he met with area chamber of commerce members and officials, and city and county representatives as he discussed two new products launched to assist businesses and consumers to get a better picture of the commerce in the state.

We like that he recognizes that sitting in an office in St. Paul may not provide the best view of what’s happening in the rest of the state.

We also like that he encourages people to contact he and his staff with ideas of how the Minnesota Business Snapshot, a new initiative, can be improved to provide more and better information about the state’s businesses. He also wants feedback on a rationalized quarterly report that people may have emailed to them to assist them in understanding the economic health of where they live and do business.

 

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International Falls Journal: Simon launches products to assist business

July 25, 2017

“Simon pointed to his recent launch of the Minnesota Business Snapshot, a new initiative designed to better serve Minnesotans — consumers, small business owners, and learning institutions — with data and information on the economic and demographic make-up of Minnesota’s businesses.”

International Falls Journal: Simon launches products to assist business
By Laurel Beager, 7/25/17

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon spent a part of last week doing what he calls the best and most necessary part of his job: Visiting with local business communities and elected officials to hear about and discuss ways his office and staff can address the needs of Minnesotans.

“You can’t do that well sitting in a bubble in your office,” he said, explaining this marks the third year he’s visited with people in each of the state’s 87 counties.

On his swing through the northwest and north central part of the state, he made stops in Koochiching, Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods and Itasca counties.

And while he acknowledged the most visible part of his job is heading up the state’s elections, he told a gathering in International Falls Thursday there are more people on his staff working on the business aspects of his office.

“We’re the welcome mat for business in Minnesota,” he told a dozen or so area chamber of commerce, and city and county officials gathered at Voyageurs National Park Headquarters. He discussed with the group work being done to streamline business services to allow Minnesotans to spend more time running their businesses and less time shuffling paperwork, he said.

The office’s mission, he said, is to make it as easy as possible to start and maintain a business in the state. To that end, he said part of the job entails not goofing up what the law says a business must do, but also to add value to the business community.

Simon pointed to his recent launch of the Minnesota Business Snapshot, a new initiative designed to better serve Minnesotans — consumers, small business owners, and learning institutions — with data and information on the economic and demographic make-up of Minnesota’s businesses.

The Minnesota Business Snapshot, or MBS, is a voluntary, five-question survey offered to nearly 550,000 new and existing businesses in Minnesota as they file their annual renewal each calendar year with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State.

The survey asks Minnesota business owners a variety of questions, including how many full-time employees they have; whether they self-identify as a member of a specific community, such as a veteran, woman, or community of color; the industry or field in which the business operates; whether it’s a full-time or part-time endeavor; and gross revenues for the past year.

Simon asked for feedback from those attending about the value of the questions, and how the MBS could be made more useful. He urged people to check out the MBS, and noted for $100 anyone can get the entire spreadsheet from the state.

To date, more than 141,000 businesses have taken part in the MBS, which recently began offering custom economic and demographic data, he said.

 

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Rochester Post Bulletin | Our View: Simon correct to reject voter fraud invitation

July 6, 2017

“Simon and election officials in the vast majority of states are correct to stand their ground and decline a seat on this fishing expedition.”

Rochester Post Bulletin | Our View: Simon correct to reject voter fraud invitation
By Editorial Board, 7/6/17

What do you do when offered a seat on a fishing boat and you suspect your host already knows there are no fish in the lake?

"I am declining that invitation," said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. Along with election officials in 43 other states, Simon has declined to go along with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Commission's request for voter registration information on Minnesota voters. Some states have said they will provide a portion of the information requested.

The commission, which President Trump calls a "voter fraud" commission, is seeking to back up the president's claim that anywhere from three million to five million people voted fraudulently or illegally in the 2016 election. Everyone on that commission, including the vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, must know that's far-fetched.

After all, when Kobach boasted that he knew of at least 100 cases of voter fraud in his state, Kansas lawmakers gave him special powers to prosecute the offenders. In the end, Kobach actually found six cases to prosecute, only four of them successfully.

But Kobach, a longtime advocate of measures that many say suppress voter turnout, is ready to do the president's bidding anyway. Thus, the commission, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, has requested extensive information about every voter in every state in the union, including party affiliation and Social Security information.

The response to the request, which some officials have called overly broad and invasive, has been swift and bipartisan. Election officials, both Republicans and Democrats, have said they won't turn over all the requested information, either because their state law doesn't allow it or because they don't trust the intent of Trump's commission.

 

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Faribault Daily News: Secretary’s push to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment signed into law

June 3, 2017

“I have traveled throughout Minnesota and met with local elections officials and the number one issue that always comes up is replacing aging election equipment before it is too late."

Faribault Daily News: Secretary’s push to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment signed into law
By Suzy Rook, 6/3/17

Secretary of State Steve Simon is praising a new law that will help replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment, calling it a “critical and necessary investment” to ensure voting equipment works properly and consistently in precincts all around the state. Replacing aging equipment has been a major priority of Secretary Simon’s since taking office and was signed into law May 30.

The bill creates a $7 million grant fund to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment by 2018. It provides up to a 50 percent match between the state and counties for mandatory equipment and up to a 75 percent match for electronic poll books. The bill was authored by Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell) and Sen. Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and included in the State Government Finance Bill.

“I have traveled throughout Minnesota and met with local elections officials and the number one issue that always comes up is replacing aging election equipment before it is too late,” said Secretary of State Steve Simon. “This is a critical and necessary investment in Minnesota’s election system, and I applaud the Governor and the legislature for recognizing the importance of this issue. Unlike some responsibilities undertaken by counties and municipalities, administering a statewide election in over 4,000 precincts is not optional. It is required by law and an important part of our democracy, and that is why it has been one of my top priorities. I look forward to working with the legislature in the future as we continue to address this pressing need and ensure voting equipment works properly and consistently in precincts all around the state, and is up to the standards Minnesotans expect.”

 

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Marshall Independent: Editorial | Make voting easier and more secure

May 23, 2017

“It’s a real need. It’s a very important to have smooth operation of elections."

Marshall Independent: Editorial | Make voting easier and more secure
By Editorial Board, 5/23/17

A campaign to making voting easier and more secure is gaining momentum in Minnesota.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon was in Marshall Friday visiting with Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg to get feedback and talk about election-related issues. Simon met with Independent reporter Deb Gau afterward and stressed the importance of updating voting equipment in Minnesota.

Apparently, Minnesota counties were able to update voting equipment after the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002 after the Florida presidential recount. But Simon claims that equipment is nearing the end of its lifespan and federal funds have dried up. Replacing the equipment bought with the federal funding would cost $28 million.

“It’s a real need. It’s a very important to have smooth operation of elections,” Simon said. But the big question is how to pay for needed equipment, like ballot-counting machines and voting assistance technology.

Lyon County was just one of many stops for Simon during a statewide tour. He also visited with Lincoln County Auditor Deb Vieruf on Friday and Yellow Medicine County Property and Public Services Director Janel Timm.

On Monday, Simon touted the Legislative passage of a reform to special elections in Minnesota. The Elections Omnibus Bill creates five uniform dates throughout the calendar year when a special election in Minnesota is now allowed to be held to fill a vacancy in local elections or for ballot question special elections.

 

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Duluth News Tribune | Our View: Election equipment a coming expense

April 13, 2017

“Getting out ahead of this before Minnesota becomes the next “Florida in 2000,” simply put, would be responsible.”

Duluth News Tribune | Our View: Election equipment a coming expense
By Editorial Board, 4/11/17

After the embarrassment and exasperation of the 2000 presidential election — recall the dragged-out recounting in Florida, the infamous “hanging chads” and “pregnant chads,” the never-ending debates over voter intent, and more — Congress came up with the Help America Vote Act to make sure it never happened again.

Among other reforms, the act led to $3.3 billion in spending to replace outmoded voting equipment.

But that federal funding source has since dried up. And a lot of the new voting equipment it bought isn’t so new anymore. In fact, in Minnesota and in 42 other states, according to one analysis, it’s reaching the end of what was expected to be 10- to 15-year lifespans.

In Minnesota, $28 million is needed right now — or very soon — to update equipment and assure future elections, as Secretary of State Steve Simon has been saying to anyone who’ll listen. Recently that included members of the News Tribune editorial board.

“Are we in a crisis? No. But if we wait until the 2018 election or, certainly, the 2020 election, (we could be),” Simon said. “It’s the old saying: You’ve got to dig your well before you’re thirsty. We want to get out ahead of this.”

The quickly coming need for big bucks for voting equipment is an almost-exclusively a rural-Minnesota problem, according to Simon. That’s because metro-area counties — including Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, and Anoka counties — all recently took it upon themselves to find funding and update equipment. They’re good to go.

 

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Mankato Free Press: Voting: Investment in election equipment needed

March 2, 2017

“But an upgrade to vote counting machines that are near the end of their life seems like a modest investment in securing the integrity of our most important right."

Mankato Free Press | Our View: Voting: Investment in election equipment needed
By Editorial Board, 3/1/17

While the contested presidential election of 2000 may seem like a distant memory, the vote counting mishaps of that time need to be revisited, mostly by upgrading vote-counting equipment.

The Help America Vote Act passed in 2002 was Congress' attempt to make sure our national voting system was sound mechanically and of solid integrity. Congress allocated $3 billion to the states to upgrade all voting equipment. Most of the equipment was purchased by 2005 to 2007 with a 10 to 15 year maximum life, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon.

When it came time to replace and upgrade the equipment, there was no new federal money. So states had to pick up the slack. Simon’s office is backing a bipartisan bill that would allocate about $14 million statewide to upgrade voting equipment. That would go toward a 50-50 match program with counties to share the full $28 million cost of the upgrades.

Much of the money would be spent in outstate counties, as Ramsey, Anoka and much of Hennepin counties have already upgraded their equipment, according to Simon.

It’s a reasonable proposal and one that we urge the Legislature and governor to approve.

 

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Mankato Free Press: Gusties give secretary of state tips on voter turnout

February 13, 2017

Minnesota regained its title of having the highest voter turnout in the country and "you did your part to get Minnesota back where we belong," Simon told [students at Gustavus Adolphus College].

Mankato Free Press: Gusties give secretary of state tips on voter turnout
By Kristine Goodrich, 2/13/17

ST. PETER — Minnesota's secretary of state paid a visit to Gustavus Adolphus College Monday to award accolades as well as to accept advice.

After bestowing a trophy to the college for having the highest voter registration rate, Steve Simon asked students what keeps more young people from going to the polls.

Gustavus won the inaugural Minnesota College Ballot Bowl. The Secretary of State Office's contest challenged the state's public and private universities to register the most student voters for the 2016 General Election.

Sixty-three percent of Gustavus students were registered by the end of the challenge. That was the highest percentage of any college. The over 1,300 registered Gusties was the highest number of all private colleges. The highest percentage of students registered at a public institution was 24 percent at Winona State University.

“Not only did you win. You blew the door off. No one else was even close,” Simon told students and faculty gathered in the recently re-opened A.H. Anderson Hall.

Minnesota regained its title of having the highest voter turnout in the country and “you did your part to get Minnesota back where we belong,” Simon told the Gusties.

A voter education committee with student volunteers from campus political and leadership groups led the registration campaign. Senior committee member Sean Hinnenkamp said they used a mix of electronic notices and on-campus events to help students get registered and either vote absentee in their hometown or get to the polls in St. Peter.

Many of those committee members plus a few other politically active students talked with the secretary of state about college students' attitudes toward voting.

 

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It's finally official: Minnesota returns to number one in voter turnout nationwide

February 10, 2017

While we already celebrated Minnesota getting back to number in voter turnout, it's finally official! The United States Elections Project finished their turnout rate analysis of all 50 states and Minnesota is at the top! 

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Mesabi Daily News: Simon Says State Needs To Help Upgrade Machines

February 6, 2017

“We don’t want a repeat of Florida in 2000,” Simon said. “This is expensive stuff … we have to make sure the system is in good shape.”

Mesabi Daily News: Simon Says State Needs To Help Upgrade Machines
By Jerry Burnes, 2/6/17

VIRGINIA — Minnesota’s voting equipment is aging out, and without legislative help, the burden of about $28 million in replacement costs will fall squarely on cities and counties.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met Monday with the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools to drum up support for a state-funded solution to voting infrastructure now more than a decade old. He’s not asking for the Legislature to foot the bill for the entire cost, rather follow Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal calling for a 50-50 split between the state and local governments.

Covering half the cost — about $14 million — would keep the state on pace with efforts in Maryland and Michigan.

“We think local government should have some skin in the game,” Simon said during an interview at the Mesabi Daily News.

After a disastrous election in 2000, marred by hanging chads in Florida and a presidential recount in the state between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002.

HAVA provided one-time federal funds to purchase election equipment for all 50 states. More than a decade later, that equipment is nearing the end of its lifespan, and Congress isn’t backing another round of spending.

Cities and counties are now on the hook to buy new voting equipment, which at about $10,000 per polling place, puts a squeeze on greater Minnesota. Simon said larger counties like Hennepin and Ramsey already started replacing machines, but rural counties are going to struggle.

He isn’t describing the need as a crisis — yet — “but wait until 2018 or 2020, and you’re flirting with real bad outcomes.”

 

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NEW: Register to vote while filing your taxes electronically

January 24, 2017

Good news! Minnesotans filing their taxes this year electronically through a state-approved vendor, such as H&R Block or TurboTax, will now see a new message prompting them to register to vote online at mnvotes.org!

While Minnesota has over 3.2 million registered voters, an additional 700,000 citizens are eligible, but have not yet registered to vote. Read more at Minnesota Public Radio, "Doing your taxes? Why not register to vote, too?"

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'Minnesotans honor Dr. King’s life’s work and legacy every time they exercise their right to vote'

January 16, 2017

"We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today and every day for his lifelong fight for equality and justice, and for standing up for the rights of millions of Americans to make their voices heard.

Minnesotans honor Dr. King’s life’s work and legacy every time they exercise their right to vote, which Minnesotans did in record numbers this past election. We must not take for granted the progress that’s been made. It is imperative that we continue Dr. King’s work to protect, defend, and strengthen the right to vote for all Americans." - Secretary of State Steve Simon

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Star Tribune: Congrats, Minnesotans: You made the state No. 1 in voter participation

November 22, 2016

“Take a bow, Minnesota voters.”

Star Tribune | Editorial: Congrats, Minnesotans: You made the state No. 1 in voter participation
By Editorial Board, 11/18/16

Take a bow, Minnesota voters. The North Star State once again led the nation in voter turnout on Nov. 8, returning to the civic participation pinnacle to which it has grown accustomed in the four decades since the state instituted Election Day registration.

That’s a heartening showing, particularly in light of this state’s slippage to sixth place among the 50 states in the 2014 midterm election. Better still for bragging rights: Minnesota’s 74.7 percent turnout this year bested the second-ranked state, New Hampshire, where turnout was 72.3 percent. And it’s much better than the national average, a ho-hum 58.1 percent.

More than parochial pride is behind our enthusiasm for these results. High voter turnout lends legitimacy to representative democracy. It allows elected officials to credibly claim a mandate for action, and mitigates the influence of small but noisy special interests. It also serves as a marker of Minnesotans’ civic engagement more generally. A state whose people vote in high numbers is also a state whose people care about their shared quality of life and take personal responsibility for its betterment.

Election Day registration, adopted in 1974, has immeasureably helped Minnesota keep participation high. A recent change made a big difference too, Secretary of State Steve Simon says. The 2013 Legislature’s move to no-excuses absentee voting — and Simon’s work promoting that option — contributed to a surge in the number of people who cast ballots before Election Day, either in person or by mail. More than 674,000 Minnesotans voted early, compared with 235,808 in 2012.

 

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Secretary Simon finishes second statewide, 87-county tour of Minnesota

November 15, 2016

Lincoln. Pipestone. Rock. Jackson. Cottonwood. The final five counties of 2016’s 87-county tour!

Thank you to all the election officials, small businesses, Safe at Home partners, high schools and colleges and universities for the opportunity to listen and continue our discussion—the best ideas come from the people of Minnesota!

See you on the road in 2017!

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Star Tribune: Minnesota's top elections official says expanded early voting a success

November 8, 2016

“In the days leading up to the election, Simon has been crisscrossing the state, visiting early voting centers and sitting down with elections officials to ask how things are running.”

Star Tribune: Minnesota's top elections official says expanded early voting a success
By Erin Golden, 11/8/16

At the lone early voting site in St. Paul on the day before Election Day, the line stretched around the building and parking spots were scarce — even for the state’s top election official.

On a visit to check in with Ramsey County elections workers, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon saw what looked to be the only parking spot in sight, began to pull in, but abruptly stopped and backed out. The spot had a sign — “VOTER PARKING ONLY” — and Simon didn’t want to take it away from a voter, even though he was running an hour behind on his jam-packed election eve schedule.

Tuesday will be Simon’s first general election as secretary of state, and it’s a big one for reasons far beyond the battle at the top of the ticket. It is the state’s first presidential election where people can vote early without an excuse, and they’ve turned out in force. By Monday morning, 568,196 Minnesotans had already voted, crushing previous records. It is also an election where voters, prompted in part by comments from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and hacking of Democratic Party computers, are more skeptical of the way elections are run. And for Simon, it is an opportunity to see election overhauls he’s championed since his days in the Legislature, such as expanded early voting, become a reality.

“To me, the election is the Super Bowl and the World Series, combined,” he said.

In the days leading up to the election, Simon has been crisscrossing the state, visiting early voting centers and sitting down with elections officials to ask how things are running.

He saved the state’s largest two cities for Monday, a day when his visits to polling places, elections offices and call centers were interspersed with interviews for the radio and TV news.

In Minneapolis, where 52,783 voters had already cast their ballots — amounting to more than 21 percent of registered voters — Simon sat down with City Clerk Casey Carl. He pulled out a pen and a three-ring binder and quizzed Carl about the city’s four early voting operations and about what the turnout might mean for Election Day voter registrations.

“One of the things I’m going to be looking for tomorrow is to see that same day, Election Day registration number,” he said, “and whether no-excuses absentee voting has an effect on that.”

 

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One week to go until Election Day!

November 1, 2016

Just one week until Election Day! mnvotes.org has everything you need to know:

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Students throughout the state take part in 'Minnesota Students Vote 2016'

October 26, 2016

Students throughout the state are taking part in Minnesota Students Vote 2016, the first ever statewide mock election for high school students.

Over 280 high schools throughout the state have signed up to participate. Students will cast a mock ballot for U.S. President and get hands-on experience with the electoral process. Each school has the ability to decide how and where the voting takes place, whether it’s in one central location, over the lunch hour, in individual classrooms, or something entirely different. Statewide results for the Students Vote 2016 mock election are scheduled to be announced on November 1—one week before Election Day.

>> KSTP: Students Vote in First Statewide Mock Presidential Election [VIDEO]



>> Rochester Post-Bulletin: 'My voice will matter': Century, JM students take part in statewide mock election
By Taylor Nachtigal, 10/25/16

As students trickled into Century High School Tuesday morning, they were greeted by voting booths.

While the talk of selecting our next president has seemingly been relentless the last few months, the group of high school got to make their pick for our country's top office a few weeks early.

That's because high schools like Century and John Marshall are joining about 280 high schools throughout the state in the first statewide mock election, sponsored by the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. Two weeks before voters will head to the polls to cast their vote on Nov. 8, the mock election is an an attempt to familiarize students with the voting process and casting a ballot.

It's about "getting good habits started early," said Secretary of State Steve Simon in a news release.

"I think it's awesome because they're learning the actual process instead of just us talking about it, they actually get to see how it works," said Kathryn Gardner, a Century social studies teacher. [Read more]

 

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