Minnesota election leaders: The system is not 'rigged'

- At the final presidential debate, Donald Trump would not commit to accepting the results of the election. On Thursday, he made a similar statement, saying “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.”

Trump’s comments continue to suggest the elections system may be partially rigged, a charge strongly refuted by elections officials, including in Minnesota. Fox 9 asked several elections experts if the system was “rigged.”

Steve Simon, the Minnesota Secretary of State, said, “Our election is not going to be rigged.” The top elections official went on to say “when a candidate, before the results come in, starts to question the integrity of the system and whether or not the actual outcome will be based on fixing or rigging, I think that’s really damaging because it might suppress turnout.”

Joe Mansky, the elections manager in Ramsey County, said, “Our elections are not rigged, and you don’t have to believe me. All you have to do is come down after the election to see the verifications that occur after Election Day.”

Julia Dayton Klein, an election law attorney at Gray Plant Mooty, said, “The system simply isn’t rigged. It would be extremely difficult to rig it. And statistically speaking, it has never been rigged.”

The elections experts said the integrity of Minnesota’s voting system begins with the ballots: they’re made of paper, which is “pretty hard to hack.”

Minnesota’s system, like other states’, is decentralized, placing the election responsibility upon localities.

“We have a decentralized system, where in 87 counties, we have thoughtful, thorough, apolitical people who are running the show on Election Day,” Secretary Simon told Fox 9.

The person running elections in Ramsey County is Joe Mansky, who has overseen nine presidential elections, and dozens of state elections.

“We verify the accuracy of our voting system after every state and general election,” Mansky told Fox 9. “At this location we have armed deputies here to guard the ballots.”

Julia Dayton Klein, an elections lawyer, said she trusts the integrity of the system “based on my experience as an attorney, and as someone who likes to read different kinds of studies about this.” She noted each polling place has an election judge, and each political party can certify a poll challenger to monitor activities.

While Donald Trump has asked supporters to monitor polling sites, Julia Dayton Klein said, “contrary to popular opinion, or maybe the twitter-verse,” the monitors would need to be certified-party poll challengers, or maintain a distance of 100 feet from the voting. If a person is a poll challenger, he/she is required to follow additional laws.

An “Elections Performance Index,” conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts, ranked Minnesota’s elections as the second best in the country, considering factors such as: mail ballots rejected and returned, online registration, provisional ballots cast/rejected, voting problems, turnout, waiting time, and other factors.

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