Justin Clark will never win a lawsuit as an attorney that way (“Mail-in voting would undermine election integrity,” Opinion Exchange, July 13). He makes claims supported by not a shred of evidence, because there is none. On the other hand, states that have allowed and utilized mail-in voting such as Oregon, which has used it for 20 years, have raised voter participation — in Oregon, to near 80% — and that’s what really drives him bonkers.
There is a Republican canard that high voter participation gives Democrats an edge in elections, and they mindlessly transfer this to mail-in voting. However, study after study proves no advantage exists with this method of voting. And voters love it. It takes far less of their time, and they allege that this gives them more time to study the candidates and issues. Who knows? But it demonstrably saves them time. It also removes last-minute problems with getting to the polls, such as illness, distractions, forgetfulness and busy schedules. Are these partisan problems? Hardly.
Finally, thanks to the Star Tribune’s policy of identifying writers by their positions or domiciles, we know that the author is a paid partisan of President Donald Trump’s. This is the best they can do?
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
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Clark is the latest person to try to convince the public that we should be terrified of voter fraud. Like usual, the problems he lays out are either anecdotal or hypothetical and always unverified. This time he wants us to fear ballot-harvesting. The traditional response would be to point out that fraud has never been statistically significant in any modern election, and that with investment and reasonable precautions mail-in voting would prove no different. But two issues stand out as more problematic.
First, while Clark’s fears of ballot-harvesting are hypothetical in nature, the more troubling issue is that his opposition to mail-in voting is pre-emptive. Despite Trump recently tweeting that voting is a “privilege,” it is unmistakably a right (a fact that the president of the United States should know). The U.S. holds rights much more sacred than privileges. This manifests in one important way: Rights do not have to be earned, and thus we do not suppress rights until after it is proven that a citizen has abused the right. We should not allow pre-emptive restrictions on voting until an independent investigative body proves that the right has been abused. Even then, we should narrowly prosecute those individuals, not trample on the voting rights of all citizens by restricting their access to vote.
Second, this does not mean that, given this is an unprecedented election due to the pandemic, we should not take reasonable precautions to ensure election integrity while also keeping voting widely accessible. This is where Clark completely loses credibility. He staunchly opposes mail-in voting but offers no other options for potential voters who may have a reasonable apprehension of in-person voting. For example, how about federal funding to expand polling locations to minimize crowds? How about expanding voting to multiple days, or making Election Day a holiday, to thin out voting crowds? Without any alternative proposals, Clark’s commentary oozes with undemocratic ulterior motives.
Luke Anton, St. Anthony
How is this not corruption?
I try extremely hard to see all sides of political opinion and read many diverse sources in order to do so. In reading the lead story on Saturday (“Trump lets crony Stone skip prison,” front page, July 11), I’m at a loss to explain how any reasonable person might view this move as anything other than overt corrupt cronyism.
Trump’s rationale for commuting Stone’s sentence was not that Stone was innocent of any of the seven felonies he was found guilty of but that he shouldn’t have been caught. This coming from the same guy who sees treason at every turn of those who oppose him and has called for investigations into the misdeeds of dozens of members of Congress, governors, whistleblowers and electoral opponents.
I challenge anyone to make an objective argument that this move doesn’t disgrace our judicial system. I’m betting that the same Republican senators and representatives who would howl about the injustice of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping doing the same thing will find a way to ignore it in our own country.
Michael Schmitt, Maple Grove
FIFTH DISTRICT RACE
That case for Omar is weak
This letter is in response to Habon Abdulle’s commentary extolling Rep. Ilhan Omar and criticizing Fifth District candidate Antone Melton-Meaux (“Big money is behind challenges to Omar,” Opinion Exchange, July 13). Abdulle writes that “less than 1% of Omar’s donations are over $200.” This is not so, according to opensecrets.org. Omar had raised, as of April 1, nearly $3.4 million. Of this, over $1.4 million came from donations of over $200, over 40%. The “recent report” on Melton-Meaux’s finances that Abdulle quotes references only a single month — May. We don’t know what the average donation for Melton-Meaux has been.
Abdulle praises Omar’s “taking on people in power,” handily neglecting to mention that being a member of Congress is being a person in power. And how effective has Omar been? According to govtrack.us, Omar has been the primary sponsor of a single bill that has been enacted during her tenure: HR 6187, the MEALS Act. If we think that being an effective legislator is actually getting things done, then that record speaks for itself.
Here’s another — missed votes. The median percentage of missed votes among representatives is 2.2%. Omar’s has been 5%; thanks to govtrack.us for that, as well. Now, missing 1 out of 20 votes might not seem like much, but we sent her to Washington, and I expect we want her to vote. Every time.
Abdulle’s Omar is “fighting for the people.” It’s exciting to be in front of the cameras, but rather than using fisticuffs, don’t we want someone who is working for the people, and doing so effectively?
Owen Brown, Minneapolis
Nope, Gazelka, that’s not it
I disagree with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s comment regarding mask wearing: “It’s a sense of controlling your own destiny” (“Rift grows as Walz weighs mask rule,” front page, July 13). It is controlling not only your destiny, but the destiny of all individuals you come into contact with and could unknowingly infect. Do you really want to be responsible for spreading the virus further and forcing our state to go back to a “shelter in place” status?
Jessica Broyles, Golden Valley
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The unfortunate logic used by Lake of the Woods County Commissioner Cody Hasbargen saying that greater Minnesota is “different” than the cities requires a response. Does greater Minnesota prevent others who do not reside there from visiting these areas? It’s like saying, “Greater Minnesota has less traffic on its roads, so we don’t need speed limits.” It seems very strange to me the lengths people will go to avoid being mindful of others’ well-being. Wearing masks is not about you. It’s about everyone else.
Greater Minnesota is not in a bubble. It is part of “everyone else.” I suggest that its residents acknowledge they are part of a larger community and wear their masks.
Cynthia M. Mortensen, Vadnais Heights
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