Kiffmeyer: Participation is the key

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer was the oldest of 14 children in her family.

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer was the oldest of 14 children in her family. She learned early how to pull her own weight, and the weight of her siblings.

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&uot;I got to pull the wagon a lot,&uot; she said. &uot;My most common refrain was ‘Don’t drag your feet.’&uot;

Kiffmeyer takes the same approach to politics. There’s no room for whiners and complainers, she said.

&uot;Everybody needs to take a turn pulling the wagon. Everybody’s got to pitch in and help – no sitting around and complaining,&uot; she said.

Kiffmeyer was the keynote speaker at the 7th Annual Freeborn County Republican Appreciation Banquet Monday at the Elks Lodge in Albert Lea.

As the Secretary of State since January 1999, Kiffmeyer stood at the helm of a state election machine with the highest voter turnout in the nation.

&uot;That gave me a great deal of satisfaction,&uot; she said. &uot;We had none of the problems that we heard about in other states like Florida.&uot;

Since the controversy over presidential ballot counts in Florida, interest in the job of Secretary of State is higher than ever, Kiffmeyer said. Along with voting technology concerns, she said many states are rethinking the integrity of the election process.

&uot;I think an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure when it comes to voter fraud,&uot; said Kiffmeyer. &uot;It’s up to you. Every single one of you needs to be in the polling place to guard the process.&uot;

Kiffmeyer said Minnesota was the first to commit to training election judges, city and township clerks and county auditors to prevent voter fraud and guarantee a well-run election.

&uot;Election judges are so important to the process. We have more than 30,000 in our state. They are well-trained, knowledgeable and they have guts,&uot; Kiffmeyer said.

According to Kiffmeyer, more young people are needed as election judges. In a state where the average election judge is 70 years old, Kiffmeyer wants to pass more of the responsibility to Minnesota’s younger citizens.

&uot;We need young people to be more visible in the process,&uot; she said.

Kiffmeyer said her office is working on implementation of a computerized election support system and a Web-based precinct level reporting system for election results.

&uot;The gift of Florida is that I have lots more work now,&uot; she said.

Kiffmeyer encouraged everyone in the audience to seriously consider running for elected office at some time in their lives.

&uot;Someday it’s going to be your turn to pull the wagon,&uot; she said. &uot;Running for office is tough, its bruising, but somebody’s got to do it.&uot;