Voters in Kandiyohi County and west central Minnesota counties responded well on the August primary Tuesday. The vote-in-person procedures had COVID-safe setups and very few lines, and vote by absentee ballot in record numbers appeared to be success.
Minnesotans across the state were similarly successful with more than 640,000 absentee ballots requested.
Granted, Tuesday was not Election Day, which this year is Nov. 3.
"We've been busy, especially for a primary," said Mark Thompson, Kandiyohi County Auditor/Treasurer.
Certainly, election officials across the state were correct in urging voters to vote absentee as a safe way to vote to avoid any exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Even more important, election officials stated that Minnesota's absentee voting system is safe and secure.
"I think it is very secure in the state of Minnesota," Thompson said.
County election officials and judges assisting in the primary election are to be commended for the well-run primary.
Kudos to Kandiyohi County for their improved vote counting and reporting during this primary. All precincts utilized a vote tabulator to record votes from each ballot at the precinct. Then each precinct tabulator was brought to the County Auditor’s Office where its totals could be downloaded and sent to the Secretary of State's office.
This resulted in improved and quicker reporting.
Thank you, Kandiyohi County.
However, due to the higher number of absentee ballots across the state, the final vote in each race was not completely reported until all absentee ballots could be confirmed, processed and counted.
Voters will have to be patient come Election Day in November. While the in-person vote will be processed quickly, the voter volume will be significantly higher due to the presidential race, U.S. Senate, 7th District House race, and many state, county and local races across the state.
Plus an expected record absentee vote prior to Election Day will take time to confirm, process and count. Absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day and will take time to be counted. Then each race’s voting totals must be confirmed by a canvassing board in each county.
The two challenges facing the November election in Minnesota are serious.
The first is the coronavirus pandemic. No one knows how serious the pandemic infection rate will become by Nov. 3. Even with masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing, no one can gauge the fear level of voters on Election Day. Fortunately, Minnesota’s absentee ballot system provides a safe and efficient way for any voter to still vote in the safety of their home and have their vote count, provided the individual’s ballot is returned by deadline.
The second will be the Postal Service mail processing capabilities in November. Currently, the Postal Service is facing a serious financial crisis and is under new leadership in recent months that is making radical changes in postal operations.
The proposed $25 billion emergency injection the Postal Service is seeking is being opposed by President Trump. He has attacked the post office more than 80 times since March. Trump said Thursday he opposes the aid as part of his strategy of fighting mail-in ballot proposals that many states are adopting to protect voters on Election Day during this coronavirus pandemic.
America’s voting systems are best run by local officials in each state as governed by their voting laws. Individual political strategies are irrelevant, if not illegal in certain cases. The first and primary goal is maintaining the safety, integrity and accuracy of the Minnesota vote. The outcome of the election result lies in the hands of the voters on Election Day.
This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune Editorial Board, consisting of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.