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An Echo Press Editorial: Don't believe election fraud claims

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

Votors
Voters cast their ballots for the election at New Life Christian Church in Alexandria on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022
Echo Press file photo
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The next time you hear someone talking about voting fraud and how pointless it is to vote because everything is rigged, don’t let their comments go unchallenged.

Present them with the facts. Tell them about post-election hand counts of ballots that counties in Minnesota are required to do and how they once again did not uncover any significant problems with vote-counting machines.

Election judges checked the hand-counted results from randomly chosen precincts from the last election and found out that the tallies matched those recorded by the machines.

Minnesota Public Radio did a story about this process. It noted that Minnesota counties have been conducting post-election reviews since the 2006 election, according to David Maeda, director of elections for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. The number of precincts they audit depends on the number of registered voters in the county.

“When the law was written, we really did try to find a sweet spot between creating a lot of extra work for the counties after the election, but counting enough ballots where any issues would be caught,” Maeda said in the MPR story.

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The story noted that after local residents and outside activists raised questions about the accuracy of vote-tabulating machines and called for more election transparency, some Minnesota counties decided to count more precincts or races than required.

Crow Wing County, for example, hand-counted ballots from four precincts, double the number it’s required to. About 10 people observed the three-hour process, which didn't uncover any problems.

Over in Sherburne County, election officials normally conduct hand-counts in three precincts. This year it did four. In the MPR story, Auditor-Treasurer Diane Arnold said the only differences between the hand count and the machine tallies were a couple of ballots that voters marked incorrectly, such as leaving a stray mark outside of the oval.

“Most people come in on Election Day, they vote and they walk away. And they don't know what happens before or after,” she said. “There's a lot of checks and balances that go into things, and a lot of audits."

In Anoka County, election officials added two more precincts than usual to its post-election review, for a total of six, MPR reported. It also hand-counted the race for secretary of state, which wasn’t required, said elections manager Tom Hunt. As with the other counties, the hand counts matched the machine tallies almost perfectly, except in a couple of cases where voters mismarked their ballots, he said in the MPR story.

The state canvassing board met this past Tuesday and unanimously certified the 2022 election results, including state and judicial offices, Minnesota’s constitutional officers and eight U.S. House races.

Statewide, the hand counts did not find issues with the machine results, Maeda said.

A few overvotes were discovered in Becker and Watonwan counties, where a certain vendor’s ballots had a deep fold that made it appear that the voter had voted for more than one candidate, the MPR reported. The problem was discovered the week before the election when counties were processing absentee and mail-in ballots, Maeda said. Election officials worked with the vendor to make sure it didn’t cause widespread issues, including having election judges flatten the ballots.

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It’s no easy task to convince those who firmly believe that elections are being manipulated to think otherwise. But the fact that Minnesota’s election processes are transparent, that double-checking the vote-counting machines to the hand-counted ballots shows no widespread anomalies, and that counties are making above and beyond efforts to verify the results, should trigger a better understanding of how elections work.

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