ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47)-- The Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie paid a recent visit to FOX in the Morning. Mr. Ritchie is the state's chief election official and partners with local officials to organize elections for Minnesota's 4,000,000 voters. In addition to his public duties, Secretary Ritchie has been a faculty member for seminars run by the Minnesota Institute for Legal Education, the University of Minnesota and other academic institutions.
Mr. Ritchie sat and talked about what big changes are coming to the polls for Minnesota voters.
“Our primary is August 12th. Lots of folks are able to participate already because we have a new approach to absentee or early voting as we sometimes call it,” Ritchie said. “Individuals who want to go to their city clerks or county courthouse can go in and vote 'absentee in person.' You get your ballot, you fill it in, you fold it up, put it into a couple of secrecy envelopes, pass it across the counter, you're done. Also, you can order an absentee ballot to come in the mail. And now, you can order that online,” Ritchie explained.
“You can go to your county recorder, county auditor, the website of the county administration, your city clerks or to the Office of the Secretary of State. And that procedure now enables Minnesotans who are busy in the summer doing things out of state to take care of their civic responsibility and know that their vote will be counted, their voice will be heard,” said Ritchie.
Secretary Ritchie also explained how the new process on the web works. “On the Secretary of State's website (and there is a also a link on MNvotes.org), you can see a sample of your actual ballot. Of course, right now it's just the primary ballot. Once the primary is over, then we'll know just who is on the general election ballot. But that ballot gives you the opportunity also to click a hot-link and go to the website of the candidates themselves.
“We allow those candidates to speak in their own voice. That's one place that you can get that kind of extra information. And we find this is one reason that people like to vote at home, in the mail, absentee, is that they can sit and use that computer or read the newspaper or whatever is their reference, to think about how do these different candidates stand on different issues. So, that's one of the advantages that folks cite in their appreciation of being able to vote at home through the absentee voting process,” said Ritchie.
Secretary Ritchie is in his final term and FOX in the Morning asked him what advice he would give to his successor.
“I think the critical thing is being a steward of the long tradition we've have of free, fair and open elections and the encouragement of everybody, and I mean everybody to participate. All of us at sometime will get old. We need to be thinking about how to we keep those older Minnesotans involved, “ Ritchie said. “Almost all of us have been young. Young people sometimes aren't quite as engaged or maybe they are little shy. So, my one piece of advice would be to always think about that tradition of Minnesota being number one in election participation, number one in election administration. Think about how we are as a people are becoming more diverse, older and younger and all of that. And then do everything possible to make sure that everybody who wants to vote, who's eligible and wants to vote, has an opportunity to do that. And I think that's what Minnesotans expect of their Secretary of State and it's what is I would certainly advise to anybody who has the privilege, the honor of being elected to serve Minnesotans in this position.”