As incredible as it seems, calendars indicate that month was only 100-some days ago. That's when Democrats regained control of both the United States Congress and the Minnesota House of Representatives. DFL candidates also won every statewide office: U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, State Auditor Julie Blaha, and Secretary of State Steve Simon all won that day, most of them pretty easily.
That last one, Simon, a former state legislator from Minneapolis, bragged up his state's consistently high voter turnout once all the ballots were counted and certified. Some 64 percent of eligible voters participated, tops in the nation for that midterm election, and Simon was both grateful and hopeful we could convince even more people to play their part in democracy.
His mentions of "young people, communities of color, new Americans, rural communities, military service members, voters with disabilities" was a direct threat to... people who don't like those people? And don't want them to have a voice?
Outside internet comments, tweets, and emails to journalists, few people will go on record saying as much, especially not politicians. What the wise will do, if they're trying to allow potential disenfranchisment without getting called out, is lie by omission.
Consider the three Republican state senators who ducked a committee vote Tuesday on a bill intended to strengthen the cybersecurity protecting Minnesota's porportionally large number of votes. These conservatives have actually skipped two votes on this bill, according to the Pioneer Press, and have a perfectly good explanation for why they don't want to prevent your vote getting hacked. They just won't state it publicly.
The bill, backed by (you guessed it!) proud vote-lover Steve Simon, comes at only minor cost to Minnesota ($167,000), and taps more than $6 million available to us through the federal Help America Vote Act.
This isn't the first time Republicans have resisted national generosity in the name of local pettiness. (See: their rejection of the Affordable Care Act and any mode of transportation that isn't a pickup truck.) But this one's unique in exposing how little Republicans actually care about democracy.
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), herself a former secretary of state who served during the Jesse Ventura/Tim Pawlenty era (and later pushed the failed voter ID amendment), said in a statement that "Minnesota's elections are secure," and that the use of paper ballots protects us from hackers, Russian or otherwise.
"We will continue to examine the use of the secretary of state’s office funds to be sure his priority is on election security and integrity," Kiffmeyer said, meaninglessly.
And if you're wondering why Kiffmeyer's putting out a statement instead of talking to the Pioneer Press about this matter, it's probably because of how deeply she inserted her foot, ankle, and most of her calf into her mouth while being interviewed for a Sunday story in the Star Tribune.
Seriously, read this shit:
"People are being hacked all the time. You're being hacked all the time, I am. This is no big thing."
Insane as it is, let's try to set aside a longtime politician's absolute comfort with the thought you, reader, are being hacked "all the time." And instead, let's remind ourselves the hacking Steve Simon and his sinister ilk are trying to prevent is of voting, as in elections, democracy, vox populi, patriotism... all that stuff Republicans would claim to care about if they'd just answer the Pioneer Press' phone call.
For the love of Benjamin Franklin and all things holy, voting is the very thing that sends Mary Kiffmeyer back to St. Paul every few years for God knows what reason.
Need more proof Republicans don't care about voting? Three of them had the chance to show up and vote to say they don't care to protect Minnesota's elections, and they couldn't be bothered. Their names are Mary Kiffmeyer, Jeff Howe, of St. Cloud, and Mark Koran, of North Branch. Don't vote for them.