Letter: Setting the record straight on Morrison County

No one was attempting any type of fraud.

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I recently read an article by Action 4 Liberty President Jake Duesenberg that was published in Alpha News. I served as a teller at the Morrison County GOP’s March 12 convention and I would like to set the record straight.

I have spoken with a few campaigns and delegates from Morrison County and they have all disavowed one section of the article that I will respond to point-by-point. While I don’t dispute anything else in the article, since I don’t have firsthand knowledge, I have to question the entirety of the article given how the events at the Morrison County convention were portrayed.

1. A volunteer with the Dr. Neil Shah campaign insisted that he be present during the counting but was told by a party official that he was not allowed to observe. 

This is untrue. The person who spoke with the campaign observer was a volunteer head teller and, given all the chaos of the day, wanted to make sure this was approved by the chair. The observer accompanied the teller to see the chair, who approved the observer and then both returned to the counting room. To make this sound as though anyone, let alone a bona fide “party official,” was attempting to strip someone of their right to observe is completely off base and untrue.

2. 70 ballots were questioned because they contained the name of a new conservative activist, Dan Schilling. 

70 ballots were never in jeopardy of being spoiled. A teller simply raised a question about how to treat names on ballots that did not appear on the delegate nominations tally sheet. The head teller then asked the chair, Justin Krych, to come to the ballot room and discuss the situation.

Right away, it was recommended that we only circle the number of any person not on the nomination tally sheet and count the rest. There were two names that Krych agreed were supposed to be on the list, so they were manually added so votes could be tallied for them.

No one in any position of power or authority ever mentioned spoiling ballots. The tellers were only discussing the proper way to handle them due to new rules approved during the convention. After a short discussion, Krych made the final call. There was no way of knowing how many ballots had names written on them that did not appear on the tally list, as the tellers had only started on their first ballot when the issue arose.

Duesenberg only mentions Schilling, but he was not the only name that was approved to be added to the list. Jeff Stanek was as well. Duesenberg only mentions 70 ballots since that is how many votes Schilling received. Duesenberg’s statement is not only misleading but factually incorrect.

3. The Congressional District 8 GOP created a rule that required all ballots to have exactly 22 names on them.

I learned from a delegate in Morrison County that the rules were indeed sent from CD8. However, Morrison County had the opportunity to discuss and change the rules and were allowed to vote on them. The delegates voted not to change this rule. It does not matter who put the rule on the rules list.

Duesenberg is, in my opinion, choosing deceit and sensationalism to inflame an already hostile situation. The Shah campaign observer was there and witnessed each rule being discussed one-by-one with a vote up or down for each. This rule was never changed by anyone.

4. The Shah campaign volunteer noticed that this was not accurate and the tellers quickly agreed. 

This is false. The Shah campaign volunteer had no input or involvement with the decision or the results. He was an observer; no more, no less. I believe the head teller noticed Schilling was missing and went to get Krych. I found Stanek’s name and mentioned it to Krych. Without even a thought, Krych said to put both Stanek and Schilling on the tally sheet since we all knew they were legitimate.

Their omission was a mistake. No one was attempting any type of fraud, as Duesenberg insinuates. There was no hesitation by anyone in adding these names to the tally sheet. This happened prior to any of us making any tally marks on our sheets.

This section of the article is total deceit and nonfactual. The Shah volunteer was asked for his thoughts at the end of the evening and if he was comfortable with what had transpired. This was asked twice. Both times he said he was happy and satisfied. Now Duesenberg has changed the story to fit the narrative.

5. New activists and Shah supporters ended up winning 17 of the 22 delegate positions. Gazelka delegates only won five. If the 70 ballots would’ve been thrown out, Gazelka would have likely won all 22. Imagine Trump ballots being thrown out in a swing state and replaced with Biden ballots. These tactics change elections. And it’s why it’s vital that good people sign up to be election judges and poll watchers.

This might be true and might not be; we will never know because everything was done correctly. This is again an attempt to make the uninformed think there is a story of possible corruption here. It is just filler to play on emotions.

We do need good people to be poll watchers and observers for our elections, don’t get me wrong. But we also have to be open and honest instead of stirring up hostilities whenever possible.

This section of the article on the vote-counting process contains inaccuracies and has called into question the integrity of six delegates from Crow Wing County, all part of an election integrity group that has made getting things right their top priority.

This sensationalism and dishonesty matters when it harms people’s reputations and creates mistrust and doubt in a system that most of us are trying to make better. Shameful.

-John Sylvester, Crow Wing County