With only one Republican voting against—Sen. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville)—the Senate passed HF 3429, with only a minor amendment. HF 3429 is the state’s decision on how to spend huge federal grants that have be given to states to shore up election security and deal with the coronavirus crisis. In total, the bill spends almost $15 million given to Minnesota by Congress.
Alpha News had previously reported that HF 3429 had ruffled the feathers of some conservatives, who believed the bill gave Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon way too much.
For example, HF 3429 has language that allows the bill’s millions to be spent on “improving accessibility.” Yet “improving accessibility” is nowhere to be found in the federal legislation. Instead, Congress wrote that money should be used to “Conduct post-election audits to check the accuracy of the vote count.” Yet this election integrity language is nowhere to be found in HF 3429.
The bill also appears to allow Simon to create new polling places no matter whether polling places have been closed due to a coronavirus-related emergency.
That issue on new polling places specifically has conservatives upset. In the special California congressional election that just occurred, Democrats appeared to erect a new polling place in a heavily Democratic area at the last minute. Tom Emmer appeared on Fox News to say that “at 5 AM on Friday, LA county announced they would open an in-person polling station in the most Democratic area of the district… in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.” This was done “because Mike Garcia, the Republican, was leading in the returns… it came after the Los Angeles Democratic Party Chair asked for it.”
“Governor [Gavin Newsom] of California won’t let restaurants, beaches and stores open, but he installs a voting booth system in a highly Democrat area (supposed to be mail in ballots only) because our great candidate [Mike Garcia] is winning by a lot. CA25 Rigged Election!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
California Democrats glossed over the inconsistencies on the stay at home order versus an in-person voting place, and accused Republicans of trying to suppress the vote.
Divided Republicans, unified Democrats
A conservative activist, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Alpha News that “Simon has one goal, to retake the Senate, and I worry that Senate Republicans just gave him a head start.”
Most Senate Republicans see things differently. Several took to social media to note to their supporters that they stopped “mail-in voting,” and framed the passage of the election funding bill as a compromise. But to some conservative activists, it seemed unclear as to why simply stopping mail-in balloting—given the other contents in HF 3429—was indeed a compromise.
Democrats unanimously supported the funding bill. The bill passed the Minnesota Senate 66-1, and passed the Minnesota House 122-10. Aside from Howe in the Senate, the Republicans in the House that voted against were Reps. Bahr, Drazkowski, Franson, Hertaus, Lucero, McDonald, Mekeland, Munson, Quam, and Runbeck.
The Republicans that touted the bill were Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia), who authored the bill with House Democrats, and Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake). Kiffmeyer is the Senate elections chair.
In this next election, well over a million absentee ballots will likely be cast. That’s up from almost 700,000 absentee ballots in 2018. Conservatives are concerned about the lack of Republican election judges to decide the validity of these absentee ballots.