I was alarmed to read that the Minneapolis police union has called for retired police officers to serve as GOP poll challengers in next week’s election, apparently seeking those who can handle themselves in “rough neighborhoods or intimidating situations” (“GOP wants ex-cops outside Mpls. polls,” front page, Oct. 29).
After all, I will be serving as a poll challenger for the DFL in Minneapolis and I am definitely not intimidating. In fact, as a DFL poll challenger, I won’t be challenging anyone. Instead, my goal will be to ensure that every eligible Minnesota voter, no matter who they support, gets to vote if they want to vote.
So, I suppose my concern stems from the message that the GOP and police union president is sending to Minnesota voters by seeking those spoiling for a fight, with “eyes and ears” aimed at nonexistent voter fraud. My concern is amplified when I read about GOP attempts to have ballots segregated and the recently defeated effort to recruit armed forces to “guard” our polling locations.
When I come home after the polls close on Tuesday, I will be proud to tell my children that I helped Minnesotans vote. I wonder what my counterpart GOP challenger will say about what they did during our election. Will they be proud, too?
David Waytz, Minneapolis
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At the behest of the Trump election campaign, the Minneapolis police union is asking for retired police officers to station themselves at polling stations in “rough neighborhoods” to “act as eyes and ears in the field and call our hotline to document fraud.” Why? And what kinds of voter fraud do they expect to detect? Are they hoping to find Klingons in disguise or just people who happen to “look like foreigners”? And what kind of specific training do they have for detecting voter fraud in the first place?
Since when was voter fraud ever a crisis of national scope, before President Donald Trump started his self-serving campaign of lies, intimidation and obstruction? Yes, Republicans have played the “voter fraud” card many times before in different parts of our nation, but Trump has nationalized this despicable strategy to a level “like nothing you’ve ever seen.”
When Trump’s plan to incite private groups to station themselves at polling stations drew considerable backlash, Trump and his GOP quislings have now turned to soliciting police unions to support their underhanded, nondemocratic tactics. Trump likes to brag he is the “law and order president,” when it is quite clear he really means he is the “police state president.”
George K. Atkins, Minneapolis
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Having lived, worked and been an election judge in “rough” north Minneapolis for 20-plus years I can attest to the fact that Minneapolis elections are managed very well, fairly and efficiently; the citizens I have met are polite, respectful and dedicated to the honor, privilege and responsibility of voting. Police Federation President Bob Kroll’s hoodlums can go elsewhere to intimidate, demean and disrupt the democratic process.
Connie Rutledge, Minneapolis
At this point, vote in person
Minnesota’s elections infrastructure is among the best in the nation. Reliable, accurate and fair, our state has done as much as it can in the current political climate to make ballots freely available to voters.
That changed on Oct. 29, when a last-minute ruling by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that casts doubt on the certainty of any absentee ballots postmarked prior to Election Day but received after Nov. 3 (“Court puts late ballots on hold,” front page, Oct. 30).
In short, anyone planning to vote by mail who has not yet mailed in a ballot should do everything in their power to get to a polling place on Nov. 3 to ensure that their vote is counted. Late absentee ballots may yet be tallied, but their validity will almost certainly be challenged.
For those who have already cast absentee ballots, a safe, secure and effective voting system ensures that their votes will be counted. For everyone else, please prepare for socially distanced lines and cold weather, and vote like your nation, state, neighbors and community are depending on you.
The state of Minnesota has done all that it can to protect our voting rights. If we want to keep those rights, it’s up to eligible voters to exercise them by voting on Election Day.
Shannon Peterson, Minneapolis
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The idea that Minnesota could be counting votes received a week after the election is complete nonsense. People really need to be responsible and go vote either in person on Tuesday (these same people that go to the grocery store, Target and Home Depot but say it’s not safe to vote in person), or go vote early, which has been possible for weeks. Who in their right mind would mail in a ballot next week?
I voted at Orono City Hall on Wednesday. It took 5 minutes; one other voter was there. This complete utter nonsense of counting ballots arriving a week after Election Day is a disgrace and an insult to any responsible citizen who took the 15 minutes out of their day like I did to go cast my vote.
The world is upside down when we allow things like this to occur.
Andy Page, Orono
Once more: Judges don’t legislate
I am responding to the New York Times article “Kavanaugh opinion in voting case draws debate” (Oct. 29) on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion for the court in the Wisconsin ballot counting case. The case focused on the question of whether the electors could count ballots received days after Election Day.
Wisconsin state statutes ended vote counting on Election Day. A District Court judge thought the law should be amended to extend counting for days afterward. The Court of Appeals had upheld the Wisconsin law, reversing the contrary District Court decision, and the Supreme Court affirmed the appeals court. The article stated the issue at hand concerned the “role of the courts in protecting the right to vote during a pandemic.” This statement reminded me of the hearings to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett where she reminded the Senate that the court’s role was to affirm the laws as written and not to legislate where the court disagreed.
The authors either missed her point or pointedly disagree with Justice Barrett. The courts have no role in a pandemic any different than in ordinary times — they rule on the law. In the case at hand the law shut down ballot-counting after Election Day. It may indeed be a good idea to count ballots for some indefinite period in the case of a pandemic. The Wisconsin Legislature apparently did not think so. Judges could also endlessly dispute the overtime period. The Supreme Court could disagree and make it 30 days or 60 — what is to stop the court once we concede lawmaking powers to it in its discretion?
The authors miss the point entirely in their discussion. There is no role in elections for the court except to enforce the law as enacted. The courts do not act independently of the law. The court is not a lawmaker. Once we break free of this limit on the judicial power as the authors and an alarming number of Democratic senators suppose we might, our democracy is doomed.
Phillip A. Cole, Eden Prairie
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