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Sec. of state pursuing voting advancements

Two weeks into his term as Minnesota’s new secretary of state, Steve Simon has a goal to make voting as easy as possible for the state’s residents.

Steve Simon

Steve Simon

Simon, a former DFL legislator from Hopkins, in 2014 helped bring about no-excuse absentee voting, which he said has been a huge success.

He said there was a 55 percent increase in people utilizing absentee voting during the election in 2014 when compared to 2010, another non-presidential election year.

With no-excuse absentee voting passed, he is now focusing on implementing what he calls “true early voting.”

Simon said under absentee voting, voters place their vote in an envelope and either mail or bring it into the Freeborn County Courthouse, where it remains locked up until the election and is then counted.

Under early voting, people can go in to their county courthouse, and their vote is tabulated the same day, he said. A running tally of votes preceding the election would not be available to the public.

“It has the advantage for voter peace of mind and would save time and money,” he said.

He noted 32 states in the country have it, including all of the states surrounding Minnesota: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

“I think that voting is no longer a one-shot deal where on one designated day between certain hours people can exercise that fundamental right,” he said.

He would also like to focus on registering 16 year olds or 17 year olds interested in voting so that when they turn 18 they would be ready to vote. He hopes this would increase voter registration among younger voters.

This summer will be the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

He said this offers his office the occasion to reflect on where the country and state are today when it comes to voting.

“I want to make sure this is an office not just in St. Paul,” Simon said.”I’m really making an effort to reach out and travel places around the state.”