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Minnpost reports that a lawyer for the Minnesota Republican Party sent this letter to DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie about eight "problem" precincts with malfunctioning machines and overflowing uncounted ballots. Ritchie's office just released a letter from legal advisor Bert Black that included these email responses to seven of the eight precincts identified in the GOP letter:
From Dakota County official Joel Beckman:
We have made contact with all city clerk’s associated with the complaints received, here is the Dakota County response:
• Inver Grove Heights Precinct 4 – According to City Clerk Melissa Rheaume this machine has not encountered any problems today, the emergency auxiliary compartment has not been utilized today.
• Burnsville Precinct 14 – According to City Clerk Tina Zink there have been no reported problems with this machine
• Eagan Fire Administration (Precinct 7) – According to City Clerk Maria Peterson this machine malfunctioned right away this morning and was swapped out. New machine is working fine.
• Eagan Precinct 15 – According to City Clerk Maria Peterson this precinct had a brief power outage this morning, the auxiliary slot was utilized for a brief period but is now fine.
• Mendota Heights Precinct 2 – According to Acting City Clerk Nancy Bauer, the very first ballot this morning was rejected because the ballot box was not properly set up (the back bar was not removed to allow ballots to pass through) – this was corrected and no problems reported since the first ballot.
• Lakeville Precinct 14 – According to City Clerk Char Friedges, this precinct had some problems with secrecy sleeves not releasing ballots (don’t know why) so the head judge, thinking it was a machine malfunction OPENED the auxiliary slot instead of having voters drop ballots through the slot. This gave the appearance of an overflow of ballots in the auxiliary compartment. After the judges were shown the proper use of the secrecy sleeve, the machine accepted ballots correctly and the auxiliary compartment was emptied by judges from different parties and ballots were properly fed into the AccuVote.
Also had a different malfunction in Eagan (precinct unknown) – someone holding an infant while running the ballot into the machine, infant drops something that jammed up the machine, but it is now working fine.
From Rice County auditor/Treasurer Fran Windschitl:
We did have some machine problems this morning at that precinct. I sent staff out to correct the problem. Someone may have witnessed judges removing ballots from the emergency voting bin and running them through the machine after we remedied the problem. All is well at this polling place according to the Judges when we called at 2:25 p.m. Let me know if you need any more information.
Black wrote that the secretary of state's office was still awaiting word from Plymouth, home of the other precinct mentioned in GOP lawyer Tony Trimble's letter.
A St. Paul voter reported that he was asked for part of his Social Security number when he registered to vote at the Baker Community Center this morning. Here's the exchange he said he had with an election judge:
Election judge says that my address on the Xcel bill is not current. I say that it is. She looks it over again and says that she was mistakenly looking at the Xcel Energy address.Election judge says that the Xcel bill is dated the 19th. She asks how long have I been at my current address. I tell her since February of 2010. She says she needs to know because of the 30 day residency requirement.Election judge says that she needs (the last four digits of) my Social Security number since my address is not current on my ID. I say no she does not need my ss# since I have a picture ID and my Xcel bill with my current address. She says that she needs it. I say no. She calls over another judge and the judge says all I need is my ID and Xcel bill with my current address.Election judge finally approves me to vote. But, tells me that she needs to be extra careful because of all the things that happened in the last election. This is a highly charged political statement.
Diana Hamilton, a lawyer, said she had this encounter at Precinct 32, Oxboro Evangelical Free Church, in Bloomington
I was already registered and signed my name. Before being given the ticket to move forward to receive a ballot to vote the election judge asked me if I have "ever been convicted of a felony?" I thought she was joking, but she was not giving up that ticket without my answer. I told her "No" and said it in a tone that said "of course not" to her. I am an African American woman and I do believe this old Caucasian biddy was targeting me. Things are getting out of hand! I do know my rights, as an attorney, and knew that she could not keep me from voting but I worry about the other, maybe not-so-educated voters out there facing these kinds of election judges and challengers!
The city of Bloomington referred questions about Hamilton's allegation to Hennepin elections chief Rachel Smith. Smith told me that the incident is under investigation, but said election officials in Bloomington say this was a misunderstanding. The election judge in question was referring to the oath Hamilton had signed, and may have talked about the part about affirming that she was not a felon, Smith said. It's possible that the entire oath was not read.
"Whether or not [the terms in the oath] were all read, it’s hard to know exactly," Smith said. She emphasized that the county and the city took the allegation seriously and were committed to getting to the bottom of what happened.
Hamilton is doubtful about the city's explanation. She said that she had already signed the oath when the judge, holding the ticket in the air, made her say she hadn't committed a felony. No one else at the poll was asked that question, Hamilton said.
Did anyone else get any unexpected questions at the polls?
Andrew Blake registered to vote at his precinct at the First Presbyterian Church in Shakopee this morning. He had his Minnesota driver's license which listed his current address, but a poll challenger told an election judge that Blake needed a utility bill too. Here's what Blake wrote to Whistleblower:
As the election judge showed the person that it was a valid registration, he voiced his displeasure with the rules stating that my drivers license didn't prove that I lived in the precinct. At this point, I had received my ballot and was in the process of voting, when the election judge brought up that I had a valid drivers license and I agreed to the oath stating that my information was accurate. The person stated that "young people like him" don't take oaths seriously and it didn't mean anything and he left to the hall to "call his people." The election judge apologized for the ruckus and assured me that I followed the rules as I placed my ballot into the machine. I have voted in every election since I was able and have never experienced someone challenging registrations like this guy was ever before.
According to the Secretary of State's Office, if you're registering to vote at your polling place, you only need to bring a utility bill if your state-issued ID does not have your current address. Click here to read about requirements for registering at the polls.
Did you register to vote at the polls today? Let us know if you ran into any problems.
Associated Press reports that the Republican Party of Minnesota says people have complained about malfunctioning voting machines in Duluth, Olmsted County, Lakeville, Faribault, Mendota Heights and Eagan. The party calls the situation "completely unacceptable" and blames Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. But a spokesman for Ritchie, a DFLer, says the failure rate doesn't seem worse than in previous elections. In his view, Ritchie told AP that the election was "smooth as silk" so far.
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