Minnesota was targeted by a hostile foreign government in the most recent presidential election. We will be a target in upcoming elections. Why are we the only state that has not even attempted to access the allotted federal funds set aside to protect our vote? (“State’s election security fixes stalled,” front page, April 21; see also “Stop playing games with election security,” editorial, April 25). It is an obvious political maneuver to take another shot at voter ID laws aimed at suppressing the vote. We had a statewide referendum on that issue; it was defeated. If state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (a former Minnesota secretary of state who now chairs the Senate’s committee on elections) believes that we’re all being hacked, and it really doesn’t matter, then fine, let’s leave the district she represents open to any and all interference. For the rest of the state of Minnesota, we should be doing whatever we can to encourage everyone who is eligible to vote and doing everything we can to protect and preserve this sacred right. A handful of Republican state senators should not be able to block this vital protection.
Sandra Scholes, Bloomington
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I find it disturbing and frankly shocking that Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, has blithely dismissed concerns about possible election interference by saying, “People are being hacked all the time ... . This is no big deal.” First, I can only assume her personal reference is to someone whose e-mail or Facebook account has been hacked, not someone who has had their identity stolen or bank account cleaned out. But second and more important, how can someone who has a greater knowledge than most of how our election system works simply shrug off the prospect of wide-scale interference with votes cast, thus undermining the most important civic duty citizens have in a democracy? She continues to promote concerns about voter fraud despite a lack of evidence that this has been a problem, yet shrugs off concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 election in the face of overwhelming evidence from the Mueller investigation of the extent to which the Russians were successful. It is embarrassing that Minnesota is the only state that hasn’t taken its share of federal funds appropriated to improve election security, yet sadly unsurprising if her Republican colleagues in the Senate share her unwillingness to recognize and address the dangers we face.
Cyndy Crist, St. Paul
Background of group pushing for data release is relevant to coverage
While I found D.J. Tice’s April 21 column, “Suit seeking voter data hits a bigger issue,” to be a decent outline of the Minnesota Voters Alliance vs. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, I was disappointed that Tice did not give more of a background to the origins of the MVA. All a reader has to do is pull up MVA’s website (mnvoters.org) and read “The Honest Voting Booth” to understand that this organization and its founders have made up their minds that Minnesota elections are rampant with fraud and that their primary goal is to prove this foregone conclusion.
Such hyperpartisanship under the guise of election integrity is meant to sow discord and feed an ongoing false narrative that the current president and others are being legally mistreated by some underground cabal of “deep state” opposition. MVA is little more than a downsized and state-based end-around to the reviled and quickly shut-down “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” which had the same goals as MVA and made the same exaggerated claims of election fraud. This is the big picture that Tice seems to miss. His giving various and unrelated examples of governmental failures at his article’s end has the effect of supporting MVA’s baseless conclusions.
Robert Wood, Coon Rapids
If you want more women scientists, quit luring them into management
If companies such as 3M don’t have enough women among their technical ranks (“3M works to bolster female inventors,” April 21), the managers may well be part of the problem. During my career at Dow Chemical, it was usually the case that technical workers were only promoted to the next level after their work had shown promise, which can take a long time in science. In contrast, promising candidates for managerial positions were recruited based on perceived potential. With the result that promotion on the management ladder was always faster than on the technical ladder.
Many years ago at Dow, there was concern by upper management that there were not enough women at the corporate scientist level. But at the same time there was also a drive to get women on the management ladder, with the result that many talented female researchers were recruited away into management. At the time, more than a few corporate scientists commented to their bosses that if you want more women to climb the technical ladder, then quit luring away the most talented ones into management!
Of course, not everyone wants to be in management, but the prospect of faster promotion and higher pay makes the opportunity one that can be hard to resist. We still need to get more women to consider careers in science, but that won’t help if promising female inventors keep getting lured away to the more lucrative “dark side” of management.
Stephen Christensen, Inver Grove Heights
The writer, a chemist, is retired from Dow Chemical.
DATA PRACTICES ACT
Check the details
My philosophical “mentor” Winston Smith reminds us of both the importance of historical accuracy, no matter how small the fact, and how critical language usage can be. The April 21 article “#MeToo draws new line at cautious Capitol” has two historically inaccurate statements and a misleading instance of language usage.
In two places, the article states that the Minnesota Legislature has for a long time exempted itself from our law on public access to government data. The use of the term “exempt” is the source of both the historical and misleading language problems. A dictionary definition states that to exempt means to release or deliver an entity from some requirement to which others are subject. Using that definition, our Legislature has never exempted itself from our state Data Practices Act. When public access regulation began in 1979, the Legislature was not required by our law to do anything about public access and so it did not have to release or deliver itself from a requirement of public access.
All legislative discussion about this issue for several years has not been about fixing an “exemption” but adding the Legislature to those entities subject to the Data Practices Act. In this discussion, the political parties at the Capitol trade off positions. The party not in power advocates for the addition and nothing happens. Then the power roles reverse and still nothing happens.
Don Gemberling, St. Paul
The writer is spokesperson for the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information and a retired state manager of data practices issues.
Speaking frankly …
Re: “What are the origins of Minnesota Nice?” (Curious Minnesota feature, Variety, April 21)” A male friend who has relocated here from Ohio won a poetry slam at my home with his poem about “Minnesota Nice.” His honest take is that Minnesotans will be very nice to your face but will never invite you into their homes or to their cabins for a weekend. In other words, we are ostensibly pleasant, but maintain a cold distance. (He and I have become fast friends, of course.)
I have often envied guys, who can call each other vulgar names and tell each other off but then revert to being good friends. Women, however, hesitate to breathe a word of criticism to each other, because women’s feelings are too easily hurt, and their memories are long. And this happens between women who already know each other well!
I continue to muddle along, saying what I think, and wishing others will, as well, usually in vain. As a born-and-bred Minnesotan, I don’t always feel that I fit in here.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
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My definition of Minnesota Nice: It’s what makes you hold the door for the little old lady who’s 100 feet behind you. It’s also what makes the little old lady run, so you don’t have to wait for her.
Len Yaeger, Minneapolis