DFL candidate for secretary of state calls for more bipartisan approaches

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Valid access and bipartisanship.

Those are the two major reasons DFLer state Rep. Steve Simon said he is running to become Minnesota’s next secretary of state.

“This office you can’t be seen to be putting your thumb on the scale for any party or any candidate,” said Simon, of Hopkins.

Serving as chairman of the House Elections Committee, he said he has had “a front-row seat” to elections law and knows firsthand the importance of the secretary of state’s office working with county auditors’ offices around the state.

He has played a major role in the voting legislation approved in the last few years by the Legislature, authoring legislation that allows no-excuse absentee voting, online voter registration and that moved the primary forward in the year.

All three pieces of legislation were heavily negotiated, he noted, drawing on votes from both major political parties.

He said while it’s too early to see the effect of the no-excuse absentee voting policy that went into effect this year, auditors across the state have said they think there has been a small uptick in people taking advantage of it.

He has been meeting with auditors around the state and plans to get to as many as he can before the general election. When talking with them, Simon said the election officials have concerns about election equipment and how they are going to purchase upgrades. They are also concerned about recruiting election judges.

Simon is running against former Republican state Rep. Dan Severson in what is the only statewide office without an incumbent. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is not seeking re-election.

He said Minnesota has been No. 1 in the whole country for nine out of the last 11 elections for voter turnout, and he hopes to keep it that way.

“No matter what issue people care about the most, all roads lead to the ballot box,” Simon said. “If we don’t have clean and fair and honest elections, we’re not going to get very high.”

He said he hopes he can be someone that voters can place their confidence in and who they know will administer elections fairly.