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 Response Page  - Joe Mansky Interview\ -  Elections and Voting    

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Joe Mansky interview of 02-27-09.

The questions:

_6.2 average_____ 1.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (20) most agreement, what is your view on allowing voters to obtain absentee ballots strictly for convenience, without having to declare a reason?

_4.2 average____  2.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on whether runoff elections should be called to decide the final outcome of extremely close elections?

_4.1 average____  3.  On a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, what is your view on the question of changing primary elections so that only the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election?

Vici Oshiro (10) (0) (_)

Glenn S. Dorfman (10) (10) (0)

If ballots are not filled out in strict accordance with the stated directions, they should not counted, period.

Jackie Underferth (10) (0) (7 

Chuck Slocum (8) (5) (5)

I generally believe that we should make access easier for voters and the system should be more flexible and include the use of safe and secure technology (telephone, computer, etc.) as an additional method of voting offsite. 

I am less certain about the notion of changes in Primary Elections that allow the top two vote getters to advance to the General Election without regard to party designation.

I testified in support of the Senate version of the June Primary proposal about two weeks ago; Joe Mansky was there but did not testify.  The State DFL Chair Brian Melendez and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie joined me in public support.

Chuck Lutz (9) (1) (9)

Dick Conklin (10) (0) (5)

Paul H. Hauge (9) (2) (9)

Mansky has some great ideas gathered from many years of experience.

David Broden (0) (0) (0)

Question 1:  The absentee ballot is just that: absentee with a cause stated. Voting is a citizen responsibility that should not be turned into a game of convenience. I will consider some limited extension of the concept of absentee for other that hard reasons but that should be worked out in a working session of serious people not political opportunists. 

Question 2:  We have a process to follow let's use it. Adding another option is just not working the system. 

Question 3:  I see not benefit of this type of adjustment to the process. 

Bob White (2) (2) (9)

Donald Anderson (9) (0) (3)

I assume the percentage of errors in absentee ballots are similar in all elections. Thus after a review of the ballots let's not spend the time to argue each dot and erasure and pick the winner based on properly filled out ballots.

Gordy Jacobson (10) (5) (10)

John Milton (10) (10) (10)

I believe we are crazy in the USA to make it so difficult to vote . . . why not let people vote over a weekend in Sept or Oct and also allow those who can't be at home to vote get absentee ballots.  Put our money into disallowing multiple votes by the same person.  And why do we vote on the second Tuesday of November?

Question 1:  It worked just fine in the 1800s when the USA was mainly an agricultural society . . . is that still a good reason?

Question 2:  Republicans want people that vote to have higher levels of education and income, mistrusting the average person who has neither . . . goes back to the founders (virtually all slave owners and white men of property) jealously guarding the vote against people without property, women, minorities, etc.  That said, we keep the blinders on and have a relatively low % of participation . . . then we play games with the alleged "voter fraud" (practically nonexistent), and let judges decide who becomes President and US Senator . . . madness!

Question 3:  Since mid-1990's, Amy Klobuchar is the only statewide candidate to get more than 50% (not Coleman, not Pawlenty). 

Verne C. Johnson (8) (6) (9)

Jack and Pat Davies (10) (0) (0)

Keith Swenson (0) (0) (0)

Al Quie (0) (10) (8)

 I like an earlier primary so candidates have 3 months or more to campaign for the general election. Also, I like the idea of anyone endorsed by their party by 20% or more be able to go to the primary election. In fact, if I was a candidate now I would again announce that I was going to the primary even if I was not endorsed.

Clarence Shallbetter (6) (10) (9)

Will Branning (0) (10) (0)

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (0)

Rudy Allebach (3) (9) (0)

Bill Hamm (6) (6) (1)

Question 1: I am not convinced that this change would do anything but increase the number of rejected ballots from eligible voters. The high number of rejected ballots and the variation in reasoning for their rejection was not addressed here.

Question 2: While it may have been more expedient in this case, I agree with the assessment that the turnout would drop drastically making validity an issue.

Question 3: No. That eliminates any chance for a third party candidate. I would strongly support IRV over this.

Gerald Simonson (3) (6) (4)

Robert J. Brown (0) (8) (10)

I completely disagree with Mr. Mansky on the issue of voter identification, particularly in cases of election day registration. As I recall the first year we had election day registration one community (I believe it was Bloomington) send out follow-up cards to election day registrants and found a significant number (20% sticks in my mind) undeliverable. Has anyone tried to do that since?

Question 1:   I agree with the caucus member who referred to the honor and possible sacrifice to be able to vote – voting historically has been very convenient (and usually required) in totalitarian states, but that does not necessarily lead to good government.

Question 2:  Despite the allegations that ours is as good an election system as possible it is obvious that there are too many flaws in the system as revealed by the current contest.   Therefore, I would support a runoff unless the flaws can be corrected. Some of those flaws deal with inconsistent application of standards for absentee ballots and others deal with poorly trained or incompetent administration of the elections. In talking to my friends from other parts of the country they don’t see Minnesota in 2008 much different than Florida in 2000 in terms of election administration.

Question 3:  This could help get more mainstream candidates on the ballot, particularly in districts that are dominantly one party. Now a small group can manipulate the caucuses and nominate an extreme candidate for the majority party and that person will surely win. If a responsible candidate from that party could not get the endorsement from the caucus he could still take his case to the broader electorate.

John S. Adams (8) (3) (5)

Marianne Curry (10) (10) (10)

Eugene Piccolo (7.5) (10) (0)

John Branstad  (10) (0) (4)

Question 1:   I believe the comment about voting honor / sacrifice vs. convenience is misguided. We are a democracy where EVERY CITIZEN has the right to vote. It should be the duty of government to make voting as easy as possible. Some states such as Oregon (and some precincts in rural MN) have even gone to a vote-by-mail process. Allowing citizens to vote absentee (even for convenience) is a positive for democracy, not a negative. 

To the idea that it's nice to have everyone voting in the same place on the same day: I agree that it can be a nice warm fuzzy feeling, but it's not like we're holding a community potluck on Election Day. The reality is that most people will vote as quickly as possible. Voting isn't a social celebration, so we aren't missing out on all that much by allowing early voting / absentee for convenience.

I fail to see any reasonable downside to allowing early voting / absentee for convenience that harms the democratic process. 

Question 2:  In my opinion, holding runoff elections instead of recounts is an extremely poor and shortsighted idea. What if the runoff is extremely close? Do you have a runoff for the runoff? The State of Minnesota has a tremendously strong election system and the recount process could not be more fair or transparent (biased candidate objections notwithstanding). Can the recount process be made more smooth? Possibly, but holding runoff elections instead of recounts is an expensive 'solution' that doesn't really solve anything. 

Question 3:  I think moving the primary to August, or allowing candidates to be listed with multiple party endorsements are more pressing items that would have a larger impact.  

David Dillon (0) (0) (0)

Bright Dornblaser (10) (0) (5)

Bill Frenzel (10) (0) (8)

Question 1:  Now, honest people have to lie to vote conveniently.

Question 2:  We should count first election as best we can and stick with it.

David Alden (9) (1) (1)

Shirley Heaton (10)(5) (0)

I can well understand the basis for the issues raised in the voting process but let's face it -- today's voter (compared with yesterday's) has little patience to wait in line for anything even when it comes to deciding the best for his/her quality of life today and in the future. I'm not certain the best way to handle recounts (could it be we're heading for the toss of the coin?) but as to the waiting for more than half an hour to vote versus the comfort of doing so in one's home I must say I'm glad to be in Florida where a voter merely has to advise Supervisor of Elections of his/her preference to vote absentee and the request is good for at least 2 elections, I believe. I must say -- happiness is getting the ballot in the mail box rather than heading out to the polls. In other words, yes I vote absentee. Also, here, we rely on photo ID -- not signature. Seems to work fairly well.

And  from a political standpoint -- it's kinda neat to be able to count votes early enuf in order to determine where getting out the vote pressure is required on election day.

Joe Lampe (0) (10) (5)

Absentee ballots must be processed immediately upon receipt, and the
voters must be immediately notified if the ballots are invalid for any reason...
If this is not done, absentee or "early" voting should be discouraged.

I have worked with voter and voting data for more than 20 years, and it is among the most corrupt data on earth. The process for absentee voting in Minnesota is laughably incompetent and flawed. The systematic flaws and unequal handling of absentee ballots make it statistically and factually impossible to determine who won the Minnesota Senate election. Further, I see no interest or credible efforts on the part of the Legislature or
Secretary of State to correct the systemic problems with voting in Minnesota.

Terry Stone (0) (5) (5)
Voting needs to be done on one day and with a voter photo ID unless there is a compelling reason to permit otherwise. Elections must not only be legitimate; they must also appear legitimate. For the voter, voting is not a process; it is an event.

Voter convenience should be a low priority in elections. Designing election systems around what passes for convenient today will lead, logically, to an ongoing referendum in which issues and candidates are voted upon from our cell phones and TV remote controls. Pin numbers will be used unless remembering them proves inconvenient.

Early voting exposes our country to the risk of a fiasco should an assassination, terrorist attack or other critical event occur just prior to November 4th. Campaigning to a dwindling voter pool, during early voting, is not cost effective for either party.

In the event of a close election involving a protracted post-election process, the governor should have the authority to appoint a Congressional placeholder who is neither candidate. This needs to be done because taxation without representation has proven unpopular in the past. Excusing the situation because it is self-inflicted by the unrepresented, probably doesn't pass Constitutional muster. Neither contested candidate should be seated because there is no basis to do so until the prescribed legal process is exhausted.

Instead of seeing Minnesota as one-twelfth short on its Congressional delegation, I see Minnesota as 50% short of Senate representation; a far more serious situation at a very critical time in our history.

The lack of prosecution for voter fraud, among county attorneys, likely says more about the appetite for such a costly investigation and/or prosecution that it says about the alleged squeaky clean nature of Minnesota politics.

Wayne Jennings (9) (0) (2)

Bill Kuisle (0) (3) (3)

Question 2:  This depends on what level you are talking about. This one may have to have one due to the fact that no one knows what ballots should be counted.

Tom Swain (1) (10) (0)

Gary Clements (10) (0) (0)

Question 1:  Yes, and those voters should be able to change their minds and cast a different  ballot on election day, at which point their absentee ballot would be destroyed.  This is needed to avoid a mass of ballots cast for a candidate who somehow is not electable (thrown in jail?... or something more tragic, such as happened with Senator Wellstone).  We do need to clean up our absentee ballot process, obviously, so that there are not so many “procedurally illegal” ones.

Question 2:  This numeric is a fooler because my response is only for certain circumstances.  If the winner has a majority of the votes, even though the election is razor close, there should be no further voting.  But I am so inclined to favor a law that requires our leaders to be elected by a majority of voters, that I would desire a runoff election (highly favoring taking that vote at the time of the initial election in the form of ranking our voting preferences – IRV) if the initial election does not provide a majority winner.

Question 3:  I take this as a measure intended to prevent “crossover” voting.  If this were to be the rule, people would hardly dare use their vote on someone in the opposing party.  Even though I see a need to do something to curb crossover voting, I believe that each party should be able to have its candidate on the ballot, subject to getting a certain % of the vote in the previous election, or to a quantity of valid names on a petition, as is now the case.

Jim Kielkopf (10) (0) (0)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (0) (0) (0)

Many of the problems in Minnesota's election last fall could be improved if adults understood the civic responsibility for elections, how political parties work, and followed the written information on the absentee ballots or the information given to them at the polling place. 

For example, political party caucuses are not presidential preference primaries, they are the beginning of the political party process over the next two years and they may hold straw ballots on their presidential candidates.  Yet many people did not understand that. 

I vote by absentee ballot because I am an election judge in a different precinct than in which I live.  I follow the information given to me with my absentee ballot and I have no problem with my ballot being counted.  When a person votes at the polls, they are shown how to fill in the oval on the ballot.  Yet, some voters draw their own ovals and fill them in, some use check marks and don't fill in the oval, etc. 

We need more civic education in our schools to help future voters to understand voting and political parties.  Minnesota Kids Voting helps to bring this about.  As a Board member of Minneapolis Kids Voting, we have a very difficult time raising $50,000 each year to have children go with their parents to their polling place and vote on a ballot very similar to the adults' ballot.  But we are able to get over 600 volunteers to put on the Kid Voting project in Minneapolis and who administer the polls for the children.  We are now working with the Minneapolis public school teachers to develop a curriculum for teachers to use to help K-12 students better understand their civic responsibilities.

Chris Brazelton (10) (0) (8)

What bothers me most about the problem with the absentee ballots is that errors by clerks in processing the absentee ballots have resulted in disenfranchisement of the voters, and this should never happen.  

While I agree with Joe that our process is one of the best in the country, I am glad that there is serious discussion about cleaning up the problems we do find.  Despite being one of the best, we can always get better.

I also agree that requiring voter id at the polls is more political than fraud preventative. It's a solution in search of a real problem, and would serve to disenfranchise voters unnecessarily.  There are too many people whose lives are chaotic, poverty stricken or for other reasons don't have ids and don't have the documents required to obtain ids without incurring hardships and who would therefore give up on voting.  Legislators who vehemently push for voter ids know this, know that it is their opponents' party who would
be disenfranchised, giving their own party the advantage, which is exactly why they  spend so much energy pushing this plan, despite the fact that voter fraud is not a significant issue in Minnesota.

Question 1:  No one polices the reasons anyway, so why bother, or reward those who are very willing to lie?
Question 2: There are methods less costly to the taxpayers.

Carolyn Ring (0) (6) (2)

Question 1: So much goes on in the last few days before an election. Example:  the unfortunate death of Wellstone after many had voted early "for convenience" and they checked "out of the precinct election day" for their reason, which they can do honestly, as usually, people are out of their precinct sometime during election day. 
Question 2:   The cost and turn out are problems with a run-off.
Question 3:  Whereas, I am a great believer in the 2 party system, I do feel the 2 parties would have a great advantage and preclude the possibility of a 3rd party building up participants. A 3rd party can sometimes "wake up" the 2 major parties.  Of course, they can also be "spoilers."

Ray Ayotte (10) (8) (8)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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