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Secretary of State Mark Ritchie AnnouncesNational Association of State Secretaries of State Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections
ST. PAUL, MINN – March 4, 2013—Secretary of State Mark Ritchie today was named a member of the national Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections. The National Association of Secretaries of State created the task force to establish sound election administration practices in emergency conditions. It will focus on identifying laws and best practices that assist election officials to respond to emergency situations.
During the 2012 General Election, Hurricane Sandy hit East Coast states making voting difficult for many of their residents. The effect of Sandy also created difficulty for some residents in Minnesota who were deployed to the East Coast to assist with the emergency response. The Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State contacted emergency response organizations, utility companies and relevant government agencies in an attempt to ensure that those eligible voters who were mobilized were able vote. However, Sandy exposed some weaknesses in election laws and processes in many states, including Minnesota, which will be addressed by the task force.
“Considering the unpredictable and extreme weather conditions that we have experienced in Minnesota during election season, we have been relatively lucky that they have not had more large scale disruptions. The Halloween blizzard of 1991 is a vivid example of what we need to consider,” Said Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. “The findings of this task force should direct us to create better procedures to address voting issues when emergencies do arise whether they directly or indirectly affect Minnesota.”
The task force will begin to meet in March and will focus on emergency voting/absentee ballot procedures, state-local/municipal information sharing and emergency communications, equipment shortages, emergency authority issues and continuity of elections.
The 24-member NASS Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections will begin its work in March. In addition to Ritchie, the task force members include 24 top state election officials.
The task force's white paper is scheduled to be released early in 2014.
Editor’s note: Mark Ritchie is Minnesota's 21st Secretary of State. A downloadable press photograph is available at: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4142
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