Minnesota’s top election officials signed off on the results of this year’s vote on Tuesday, giving the state’s process a clean bill of health even as a group of Republicans filed a last-minute legal challenge.
“Our voting equipment is incredibly accurate and the postelection review in front of you proves that,” David Maeda, the state’s director of elections, told members of the five-person state canvassing board led by Secretary of State Steve Simon, which met to make official the outcome of the Nov. 3 vote.
Despite unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic, Maeda reported that a random audit of precincts in all 87 counties failed to show a level of irregularities that would have, by law, triggered a full-county recount anywhere.
That’s never happened since the state began that form of postelection testing in 2006, Maeda added.
The certification makes official President-elect Joe Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump by a wide margin in Minnesota, as well as all results down ballot. Trump’s campaign has waged a broadly unsuccessful campaign to challenge the validity of election results in several key swing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania — where state officials have also since signed off on their respective election outcomes.
The Trump campaign never focused any legal effort on Minnesota, though state Republican Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan last week alleged “abnormalities” in the state’s vote without offering any evidence of fraud. Before making that statement, Carnahan said she had spoken with the legal team of Sidney Powell, from whom Trump’s campaign has since distanced itself following a series of unfounded claims.
Just hours before Minnesota’s canvassing board met on Tuesday, several Republican state lawmakers, along with numerous unsuccessful Republican legislative and congressional candidates, asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop the board from certifying the results. Their petition raised a wide set of allegations that included references to vote count anomalies and suggestions that voting machines could have been tampered with. The petitioners argued that “our voting system has crashed in many areas of the state.”
The Republican petition also alleged Simon improperly changed state election law when he entered into state court settlement agreements to extend the absentee mail ballot counting deadline by one week and waive the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots. The group asked for a “bipartisan statewide audit of the 2020 general election.”
Moments before the canvassing board convened its teleconference on Tuesday, Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea ordered the group to prove that it served Simon and others with copies of the petition, as required by law, and imposed a 9 a.m. Monday deadline for further filings in the case. A public online log for the case showed no further filings as of an hour after Tuesday’s court-imposed deadline; an attorney for the Republican petitioners was not immediately available for comment.
One of the unsuccessful GOP candidates who signed onto the petition, Gene Rechtzigel, also filed a federal court challenge to the election’s certification on Tuesday morning. A judge has yet to issue a ruling in that case.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Maeda provided a final tally for Minnesota’s Election Day turnout: More than 3.2 million voters participated in the general election, with a record 1.9 million doing so absentee amid urging from Simon and other officials to cast their ballots early to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The 58% rate of absentee voting more than doubled the previous high of 24% set in 2018.
Minnesota also again came out on top with the country’s highest overall turnout rate of 80% — a high not seen in the state since 1956.
“This election was like no other in Minnesota history. The pandemic meant administering the 2020 election using a public health and safety lens,” Simon said after the results were certified. “I made an unprecedented request of Minnesota voters: to consider voting from home with an absentee ballot. Those voters responded in truly remarkable fashion.”
As of Tuesday, Simon said his office had yet to receive any “credible allegations of voter fraud,” adding “Minnesota’s record of voter integrity has been upheld.” Meanwhile, Simon also said there is no evidence of outside hacking attempts of the state’s election systems, which occurred in 2016.
Other members of the state’s canvassing board are Supreme Court Justices Margaret Chutich and Gordon Moore III, and Hennepin County District Judges Regina Chu and Christian Sande.