Letter - 12,000 votes not counted?The following exchange of letters about the disputed absentee ballots in the U.S. Senate race appeared in the Grand Forks Herald. Alan Roebke’s letter appeared in the June 10 issue, followed by a response from the League of Women Voters on June 27.
Editor’s note: The following exchange of letters about the disputed absentee ballots in the U.S. Senate race appeared in the Grand Forks Herald. Alan Roebke’s letter appeared in the June 10 issue, followed by a response from the League of Women Voters on June 27.
To the editor:
The real issue in the Minnesota Senate Recount process is the 12,000 absentee votes that have not been counted.
The recount system (including the lawyers, the courts and the secretary of state) has failed the citizens of Minnesota. Richie directed the recount process to follow the standards of the U.S. Postal Service – with one very important exception. You see, the postal service believes the envelope is more important than its content; but even they will return the envelope to the sender and let the sender correct the envelope.
But in Minnesota, 12,000 absentee voters were denied that right by the process and powers involved.
To my mind, that means the system has not followed the intent of state law. The law says that “the intent of the voter” is the “only focus” of the recount process, not how the voter filled out the absentee-ballot envelope or forms.
The 12,000 votes have not been counted because the voters did not fill out the absentee envelope correctly. Now, they have zero input as to whether their vote will be counted, and that should be an outrage to all Minnesotans.
Those disenfranchised voters have the right to step forward to say their vote should be counted and to ask to see their envelope.
Where are groups such as the League of Women Voters on this issue? And yes, the issue should move to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to let voters exercise their lawful right.
To the editor:
In a recent letter, Alan Roebke expressed outrage that 12,000 absentee ballots cast in the 2008 election have not been counted and asked what the League of Women Voters Minnesota has been doing to protect people’s right to vote.
The league long has advocated election law reform to make sure that citizens can exercise their right to vote. We did not come to this issue in November for the first time.
The league shares Roebke’s outrage that 12,000 voters who cast their ballots in good faith did not have their ballots counted due to violations of Minnesota’s complicated absentee ballot laws. Such a large number of errors made by voters attempting to cast a ballot is unacceptable and proof that Minnesota’s current law needs reform.
The league worked during the past legislative session to remedy this situation, successfully advocating for legislation that would have simplified the absentee ballot process for voters. The legislation passed both the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bill, so election reforms will not become law this year.
Regarding the rejected absentee ballots, we cannot pick and choose which laws we want to follow. We agree that the statute governing absentee balloting is cumbersome, but the fact remains that the law spells out what voters must do in order to have their absentee ballots counted.
The 12,000 ballots in question were rejected according to Minnesota statute. The test for “voter intent” was not a consideration, as the ballots were rejected based upon the voters’ failure to follow the necessary steps to cast an absentee ballot or because the ballots failed to arrive by Election Day, November 2, as required by law.
It would be irresponsible for the league or any other organization to advocate that the law be cast aside retroactively. Instead, we urge all who are concerned that everyone’s voice is heard to work with us toward a system that ensures accessibility and fairness for all voters.
Vivian Jenkins Nelsen
Nelsen and Stuthman are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters Minnesota in St. Paul.